Let’s face it, everyone at one time or another has wished that they could tell that pain in the rear customer to go fly the proverbial kite! I’m talking about that customer that is never happy, no matter what you do for him! These unprofitable customers will usually fall into the 80/20 rule, where 20% consume 80% of your time. This poses a serious dilemma for most businesses in this situation. Can you afford to fire a customer and even worst, have them spread negative feedback to other current or potential customers?
You’ve fired employees who either violate company policy or who represent the company in a negative way, so couldn’t you go about firing your customers in the same way? In the age of social media it’s easy for one customer’s complaint to be read by hundreds of people in a matter of minutes so be cautious. Just like there’s a right way and a wrong way to fire an employee, the same applies to firing a customer.
Reasons to Fire a Customer
It’s one thing for a customer to have a genuine complaint or grievance about your products or services, but customers who seem to complain just to complain or always trying to get something for free need to be addressed. Profitability is required for any business to survive and if a customer is WAY more trouble than they’re worth, why keep them? Spending time on unprofitable and unappreciative customers keeps you from pursuing valuable money making business opportunities so always keep that in mind.
When I say “fire a customer,” I mean terminating any type of agreement that the two of you might have together. I will be the first to admit that it’s very unsettling to treat a customer this way, but if you know that you’re providing a top notch product and or service coupled with stellar customer service, than you’ll be doing yourself and your business a favour by cutting these types of customers loose.
Firing Customers the Right Way
The first thing that you’ll want to do is make sure that you carefully and thoroughly document any problems that you’re having with the customer, which is similar to how you’d write up an employee. This is always easier with a help desk solution like Cayzu, which allows you to track internal notes that customers don’t see. You aren’t doing this to complain about the customer on social media like they might do with you, but instead so that you have legitimate proof if it comes down to actually having to fire the customer.
Next, remember that you’re a professional and conduct yourself as such. What this means is that you want to be respectful and refrain from using negative terms while breaking the relationship with your customer. Simply try your best to find a diplomatic way to show that the relationship between the two of you isn’t working and that this is for the best for both parties (this is important because the customer will see you as the aggressor so make sure to take the blame and don’t point fingers!).
Never fire your customer through a letter or email. It’s best to do it over the phone or in person. Firing someone through a social media message or email is the equivalent of breaking up with someone over a text message. If the situation demands it, don’t hesitate to ask the customer to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This step might seem extreme, but it’s sure to help you avoid any headaches in the future. Finally, you should also give the customer a parting gift (or refund) to show that there aren’t any hard feelings no matter how you might otherwise feel. This makes you look like the bigger person and makes them feel as though they got something out of the deal which will also limit your exposure to negative feedback about your business on social media.
Disclaimer: Firing a customer is NEVER easy and I would NEVER suggest you do it unless it is absolutely your last resort. Explore all options to work things out first, even an unprofitable relationship can turn around or spawn into an introduction to a more profitable customer.