This is a longer Monday Moment than usual and actually on a concept we no longer offer in our off the shelf products and trainings, but in honor of the Labor Day Holiday in America, when many are laboring over how to get more customers in the fourth quarter, this message was requested by some of our coaching clients who found they are working with customers who provide 20% of the revenue and 80% of the challenges. Do you have any customers who might fit that mold? If so, this may help.
Not long ago I was interviewed for a magazine article on “How to Fire a Customer”. At the time, and still today, the concept was entirely foreign to me as I don’t ever find a need to fire a customer, so we shifted the article focus to all the reasons one should NOT fire a customer and how you can be proactive in exceeding your customer’s expectations. However, I’m told that the reality is that not every customer is nice nor a good fit. But, how do you make that determination before you engage a customer who might turn out to be a bully or a bad fit so you never have to fire them after the fact? Answer: You can’t always tell ahead of time and in our current environment, many are taking on bad fit customers in search of revenue versus a desire to provide great service. So, if you’ve engaged a client and they turn out to be a bully, determine if the below scenarios are true and then and only then, consider whether or not you have and should use the contagious confidence and communication style that will allow you to graciously “free them up for opportunities”.
Most of the time we’re all doing the very best we can do. Now, if that’s not the case for whatever reason, dig in, and start providing that level of service. However, when you are already doing all you can to do and it is still not enough, this may be a sign that you are dealing with someone who may have bully potential or is never satisfied with anything anyone does. The first thing to do is make sure you ARE doing all you can, then check these other areas.
Never is it a good idea to assume that the feeling you might have of being over utilized or “walked on” is being done on purpose. If, however, your customer, internal or external, is never happy or provides no praise or appreciation for your extra efforts that are far more than what you’ve been asked to do, you might be facing a challenge. Determine if you are doing what you’ve been asked and then some. Make sure you ARE going the extra mile (or even inch that is beyond what they wanted) and then take an honest assessment of their reaction. If you’ve accommodated their problem, fixed an issue, given them a special discount or money back, and driven to their house to personally apologize and their still not happy, either you’ve missed the real problem or it might be time to invite them to find happiness with another provider.
When you’ve identified your ideal customer but chosen to work with someone outside of that scope and it just doesn’t sit right with you, then it may be time to listen to those voices in your head. It takes great skills to provide great service, but it takes contagious confidence and courage to listen to your instincts and say no to a request to provide something to a customer for which you are just not a good fit. The expected revenue you would get from them might be great. The potential for it to lead to more business might be great. But, if the voices in your head are telling you to run from this “opportunity” and you don’t listen, the potential for reputation damage, high stress, taking time away from other customers who love what you do and how, and the loss of energy in dealing with this difficult person or company, might well be more damaging than the benefits you think might be coming your way. Listen to the voices and if they say RUN… then put on your tennis and get to work helping those customers who value your service and energize you just to talk with them.
Contagious Customer Service in some ways is an art form. When you connect with, collaborate with, build a relationship with, and delight a customer, everyone wins and enjoys the outcome! It’s a beautiful picture of a business relationship that may even turn into friendship. Yet, if you find yourself in a scenario that is consistently bleak, dark, and draining, it may be time to pull out that contagious confidence and invite the source of those feelings to work with someone who will delight them as much as you delight those others you serve. They deserve to be happy and so do you and as they say… money, or in this case, revenue, can’t buy happiness… any more than a bully will help you grow your business.