Too often, we fall back on the mantra “the customer is always right.”
But is that always true?
Here are our five ways of telling if you aren’t a good fit with your customer:
1. You dread you interactions
Your day is going fine. Everything is lovely. You get a call, check the number on the caller ID, and your whole mood deflates. It’s not just that some customers only call when there’s a problem. Even if that’s the case, a customer could still be a good fit.
No, these calls are the ones that never go anywhere. Your staff complains about working with them. They are never satisfied and likely never will be.
Cut them loose.
2. They complain about who they used to work with
If you have a customer who seems to have never had a pleasant experience with anyone they’ve worked with, be weary. You’ll likely not be any different. You’ll just be the guy they complain about to the next company they work with.
3. They threaten your company
If a customer raises hell about something, you should definitely take notice. Not everyone who has had a bad customer experience with your company is a bad customer. You should be paying attention to Yelp and other business review sites to always improve how you deal with your customers.
On the other hand, if a customer is threatening to cause trouble and raising a stink, yet still continue to work with you, maybe politely suggest they would be happier with someone else. The threat of a bad customer review is exploitative.
4. They don’t pay on time
It’s uncomfortable talking about money. It’s unacceptable to not get paid. One late payment isn’t the end of the world or the destruction of your company. But, if it’s a pattern of behavior, you can’t keep that customer on as a business expense.
5. They don’t respect your expertise
You’re good at what you do. If your customer can’t see that, maybe they should find someone else. You should also have respect for your customer. If you can’t nourish a relationship, they might be better served somewhere else.
Have you ever fired a customer? Why? Share in the comments!
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners would argue that it’s easier to build trust with a brick-and-mortar business than a purely Internet based one. Why? Well, with your regular customers, you have a chance to engage in small talk, ask about the kids, and fill the downtime with getting to know them. You know their regular orders; you know when they usually visit; you know which of their employees they’ve developed a relationship with.
Online, you don’t get the face – to – face human interaction that helped our species evolve into a society. Here are some things you can do to make sure that trust relationship is still developed online.
1. Connect with the experts
Chances are, someone online is already doing what you’re doing and they’ve already developed relationships and reputations. Try to connect with them to see what they’re doing. Interact. Build your own relationship with the expert. When the time comes, you might not be able to help a customer with their needs, but if you can point them to someone who will, you’ve become the person they can go to for connections. Next time, if that customer needs something, they’ll come to you for help. And, this time, it might be your business that can provide the service.
2. Acknowledge your advocates, apologize to your critics.
If someone praises you for the work you did, send a thank you. A Tweet, an email, a Facebook post. It doesn’t cost you anything to make your customers feel good. And, hey, if they went out of their way to show you some gratitude, you should return the favor.
On the other hand, if someone gives you a bad review, don’t ignore. See if that person will engage with you. Ask them about the review and see if there’s something you can correct. Was their order broken or not as described? Was it not shipped fast enough? If they’re complaining about something that really can’t be changed (like they didn’t realize what they ordered or forgot they already had one), don’t start a fight. Send them a coupon (something like free shipping or 10% off) as a way of an apology.
3. Give them content they can use
Let’s say you sell air conditioners and you have a blog on your website. Rather than blogging about how much people need air conditioners, give them some tips on using them. Like, turn it down or off after 6pm to save on your electric bill. Or how to check your house for places the air might leak out.
Maybe it means air conditioners will last a little longer and people won’t buy as many, but when it’s time for that new one, you’re the company that knows how to take care of air conditioners and are interested in helping people cut costs.
How have you built your online reputation? Share in the comments!
Our society functions under the mantra: the customer is always right. This is a notion that has been fed to us since we entered the work force. No matter what, make sure the customer leaves happy.
Small businesses and startups rely heavily on word of mouth to find loyal customers and advocates for their businesses. Your customer can be your greatest ally. If you can give them a great customer service experience, you have a fan for life. At this point, you know how to treat customers. Be kind and courteous. Address their issues in a timely fashion. Make sure you listen to their concerns and discuss things with them to make sure you both understand each other.
So, what happens if you can’t make a customer happy?
There are people out there who want to test how far that can go without holding up their end of the deal of being a customer. While you should never assume someone’s trying to scam you, some customers might be testing the waters.
In this case, you want to work closely with your employees and customer service staff. Don’t automatically assume they did something wrong. Customers can abuse products and policies, demand unreasonable resolutions, or verbally abuse your staff. When you step in, make sure the customer knows the buck stops with you.
Don’t belittle your team or employees. Trust that they did all that they could to give the customer what they asked for.
When things start to get hairy, you should start collecting the records of your interactions. If you have a paper trail of evidence that shows this customer has made a habit of being a bad customer, everyone on staff can be appraised of the situation. In the future, don’t work with this customer.
While you might lose one business opportunity, you will show your support for your team.
If you want to learn more about dealing with no-pay customers, check out Business Beware.