It doesn’t matter what business or industry you’re in, some customers you’ll love, and some you won’t. Some customers are a dream and others are just nightmares and there’s nothing we can do about that…. Or is there?
When I speak with designers who I business-mentor as part of Web123’s ProPartner Program, I always say life’s short and not to deal with customers who upset you or make your work-life hell… no matter how much they’re paying you. My message is if you have a really nightmarish bad customer, boot ‘em! But I warn them, as I’m warning you, that booting customers should only be as a last resort. And here’s why:
Bad customers can become raving fans who’ll never ever leave you… if you know some simple tips.
First, a question for you. What if we look deeper into the dark soul of a bad customer? What if we take some responsibility for their bad attitude and shoulder some of the blame? Unless they’re a raving loon, their dissatisfaction usually comes from an unmet expectation; yes it’s often a matter that what they expected from you, versus what they received, didn’t match. You could say ‘yeah but that’s their problem, not mine’, but you need to make it your problem. Because, for whatever reason, your process failed them. So, come on, let’s not be defeatist about those ‘bad’ customers. You really can change their behaviour, but it does need to start with YOUR behaviour.
The first step to turning around bad customers is to stop seeing them as a bunch of faceless ‘annoyances’ and start looking at them like the people they are.
These days, bad service is so widespread that your customer probably assumes you won’t do anything about it. That frustration alone is probably increasing their bad attitude towards you. Can you image how surprised and even delighted they’ll be if you actually care, and if you actually take some action for them? So sit down and consider why they could be unhappy with you. Even better… ask them! Could it be your processes, or your product? Perhaps it’s something tiny that has grown out of all proportion, like a crossed wire somewhere along the way? Or, maybe, it’s something pretty serious like a salesperson promising too much in the heat of the sale, and then not delivering on it. Ultimately you can resolve all sorts of problems if you hold your hat in your hand and apologise. Let them see you’re human and let them feel your sincerity that you’ll do something about their grievances. Let them know you’re going to improve your processes so it doesn’t happen to anyone again. That’s the way to turn a bad customer into a raving fan. Simple as. Of course, if they really don’t have any basis for complaint, and they’re just a pain in the A, then refer to my original advice and…. Boot ‘em! Wishing you all the success you so deserve, Bianca