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bad customers....

    • 990 posts
    February 24, 2007 12:32 PM EST

    I attended a video conference recently where the practice of "firing" bad customers was discussed.  It`s a hard call because we all spend so much time trying to attract business it is kind of counterintuitive to get rid of customers.  At the same time, if the bad guys are becoming a distraction and keeping you from serving the good ones, it`s time to do SOMETHING.  Perhaps it might help to give the bad guys some time to reform and if that still does not help, suggest they go elsewhere.

    There`s a way to do it and still be a nice guy.  I have recently started to gently "nudge" a few clients and hope I don`t have to write them a "disengagement" letter.  It`s not an easy situation, but I think there is always a line that can be crossed where the professional relationship just can`t be productive for BOTH parties.

     

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    James Lindon, Ph.D. Patent Attorney
    Lindon & Lindon, LLC
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Pharmacy Law, Litigation
    [this is not legal advice - provided for discussion only]
    Intellectual Property for the Individual and Small Business: Identify, Protect, Enforce, Defend.
    "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
    http://www.LindonLaw.com

    • 9 posts
    April 21, 2007 7:42 PM EDT
    If you don`t own the company yet and anticipate it in the future, then now is the time to do some tweaking to get your clients happy. I enocourage you to speak with them one on one to find out what the real problem is. Then deal with it. If it is just a personality thing, then maybe you have to let them go and move on to better clients.
    • 20 posts
    May 14, 2007 2:30 PM EDT

    I agree that there are plenty of people out there with personal problems! I was working with a customer the other day at my "day job" and the sales consultant apologized later for his customer`s behavior. She started yelling when I asked if her father could come in to sign paperwork or if he had any ID. I told the sales consultant that she wasn`t yelling at me, she was just yelling. She is mad at her situation, not us.

    Anytime someone brings up "power of attorney" or "Can so and so come in to the store to sign in person" emotions get involved. The lady was upset because she threw away her dad`s ID when he could no longer drive, and he can`t act nicely in public due to his condition... so not only was he unable to come in and sign, but he was unable to go to the DMV to get a new ID. Well, I must say, I`m sorry to hear that, but I`m not sorry to respond with our policy!

    This was definately not the first time I had listened to a customer rant and rave. It certainly won`t be the last either. I just try to make sure that whatever it is that they are mad about, it isn`t my fault! In those very rare occaisions in which it IS my fault, I apologize profusely.

    • 19 posts
    June 7, 2007 11:21 AM EDT

    I know I`m jumping in on this a little late in the game but I wanted to share an experience I recently had as the "unhappy customer".  In this case I was that customer.  I had ordered a product from a catalog and the shipping was ridiculously expensive and slower than promised. 

    I called the company to get answers, all I could do was vent because the product was on its way, albeit very, very slowly.  I was suprised and how much it seemed that not one person in that company could have cared less if I were no longer their customer. 

    In my humble opinion, it is important that the customer feel that someone cares about them.  You don`t usually have to sell the farm to make them happy if they just feel that you care.  I would have left that situation a lot less frustrated and maybe even purchased from them again if I had left the conversation feeling like they wanted my business.  I didn`t even get an apology for the delay.  Just rude people telling me I was being impatient. 

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    Our Mission is to Serve our Clients with Professionalism and Efficiency.
    www.SupportMyOffice.com

    • 19 posts
    June 7, 2007 2:11 PM EDT
    Very True Craig.  Customer Service is failing miserably all around the world. 

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    Our Mission is to Serve our Clients with Professionalism and Efficiency.
    www.SupportMyOffice.com

    • 38 posts
    February 23, 2007 2:09 PM EST
    You can`t be liked by everyone. The trick is being liked by the people who you want to like you.

    I own my own business, so my hands aren`t as tied as yours are. And the nature of my business—writing and graphic design—affords me the opportunity to vet most painful customers before they even become customers. Guess I`m lucky that way.

    But maybe my past-life experience as a collections manager might help here. I found that when "demanding" money from people, the best way to ensure success was to make them want to comply (in this case by paying me, in your case by accepting your bank`s terms). I wanted them walking away happy that they had paid me money that previously they refused to part with,

    I did this, in large part, by reframing the conversation. Instead of creating an adversarial dynamic of "You must comply with my rules," or a defensive one of "It`s not my fault but you still have to do it this way," I turned it into a case of, "How can I help you succeed?" So first I had to define success—getting me off their back. Then I had to be real nice about the whole thing. No matter how irate or nasty people got with me (and I heard some incredibly nasty remarks), I remained professional, calm and firm. I never got apologetic, because people took it to mean that I knew I was wrong. I wasn`t wrong! And neither are you. Stand firm, be nice, and identify the best way to solve their problem within the parameters you have to work with.

    Some people will never be pleased, but I guarantee you that most will begrudgingly recognize your professionalism and this will inevitably lessen the blow of having to do things "the bank`s way."


    Or you could just point them to your boss and say "It`s his fault—sic `em!"


    Roughstock2007-2-23 20:10:38

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    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 38 posts
    February 23, 2007 6:53 PM EST
    Sounds to me like you need to get out as soon as you can (which, if I`m following you, you`re trying to do).

    Unfortunately, in the meantime, you get to put up with a bunch of a-holes (sorry, I know this is a civilized forum). Seriously though, if you can learn to deal with those folks—the worst of the worst, I mean—you will be in a far better position when you finally do strike out on your own, because you will be better equipped to de-escalate and make them profitable customers. It all changes when the stakes are all in your hands.

    Craig is right, in that you need to know when to fire a true problem client (one that will cost you money). But you can`t do that with everyone, and being able to recognize the difference between those worth firing and those who are just a pain will serve you very well.

    Hang in there!

    G`night,
    J.

    ---
    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 95 posts
    February 13, 2007 8:18 AM EST

    Now I`m not talking about slow payers but I`m talking about the mean, nasty and otherwise just rude customers. I work in the customer service field now. I get quite a few unhappy campers. These people are the ones constantly telling me how to do my job, complaining despite me doing my job correctly, etc.

     My question is should I expect more of the same once I am the owner?

    I mean I`m the low man on the totem pole now. (at least that`s how the customers see it) But does this change when you`re in charge?

    Also I don`t plan on dealing with the public per se. My customers will be other businesses. Are they any better? thanks in advance.

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    February 13, 2007 11:27 AM EST
    touche: hoseofjerkyjanie. You`re right if they complain I may not have any customers. But I get these customers that complain about policies out of my control in my current condition. What to do then? on the flip side when you`re the employer what can you do?

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    February 14, 2007 6:59 AM EST

    I`m on the way to doing number 3 like hardcore, Jerky Janie

    They know about the complaints and usually do what`s right for that particular customer. Which is something you suggested. The problem is what Tangtuler mentioned in the first place. It`s the inefficiencis of thier policies. For some members (in the credit union) they`ll bend over backwards, yet for others they will follow thier beuaracratic policies to the letter. This leaves me in a bind because I`m simply following orders. But I do my best to try to do damage control with the decisions i can make. But I am starting to compile  a list of things i`ll do differently when I`m in charge.

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    February 14, 2007 7:05 AM EST
    follow up: how do you deal with those customers that just can`t be pleased? You try to appease them but they just want too much or are asking you to bend in a way that will actually hurt your business?

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    February 23, 2007 1:17 PM EST
    That`s all well and good but apparently my bosses told me that I`m being too mean to the customers. I only tell them that they need to follow the rules. I countered to my boss that I could just not say anything. She retorted that I should tell them what the rules are and ensure that they follow them. But I have to do it in a way that won`t hurt their feelings, alienate, or otherwise make them feel bad.

    So my hands are basically tied. I`m simply trying to work within the rules which is unpleasant to some customers which in turn complain. What`s a guy to do? I`m not interested in being an anti customer jerk, but these people seem to think of me as such just for explaining what the rules for protecting our business (banking) are. Does this ever happen to you guys? and if so how do you get around it as a business owner?

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    February 23, 2007 5:57 PM EST
    ha ha ha. I`ve turned to the last option lately. I like your ideas which are awesome and what I use when it`s a policy issue. But most of time it`s now general etiquette which died in the Victorian area apparently.

    They just do things that get under my skin like stand at my window when i`m trying to put money away from someone who literally just left my window. Or my personal favorite of shoving a deposit ticket in my face. I swear one of these days a customer will try to insert a debit card in my mouth.

    There`s basically 2 customer types now: The unknowingly rude customer, and the habitual rule breaker. I`m apparently supposed to be a door mat to both according to my managers. Only problem is I don`t want to be. The only thing that matters to the customer is the customer, I get that. But it`s almost like these folks don`t care about anything except themselves at the expense of human civility and manners.

    I`m basically fighting a lost cause. I understand that I`m supposed to be a good ambassador to the credit union`s member. I try my hardest not to take things personally. But is it so wrong to stand up to yourself and kinda ask your customer to be a good customer citizen as well?

    Or are my expectations for mankind (sadly) too high.
    nothinglikeit2007-2-24 0:1:46

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    February 23, 2007 6:35 PM EST
    yeah and that sounds like the way I`d play things if I were in charge. I understand that you want to make the best of the customer`s experience and maybe take a bit of abuse if they`re in a bad mood; But I`m not one to put up with a lot of unnecessary nonsense. My theory is I can either help you, or you can go somewhere else if you`re that unhappy. 

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    February 24, 2007 12:53 PM EST
    yeah i know it`s not easy. I think once I`m serving my customers, I can manage them better than my bosses do theirs. More importantly I can do things my way which will end a lot of my frustration. 

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 95 posts
    April 23, 2007 7:30 AM EDT
    Craig: I actually had a customer tell me at my job tell me that working in a clothing store isn`t that hard. The funny thing is he`s right. It does take a person with the skin of a Lizard to put up with a lot of the unnecessary attitudes from customers. But the actual work of keeping a customer happy is easy. Unfortunately as an employee you are somewhat limited in doing this. That a scary stat by the way.  A lot of my negative customer service experiences are starting to make sense though....

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    Follow the journey of Marvin Hawkins Visual Concepts and Nothing Like It Games at http://gamerdeveloper.blogspot.com/

    • 19 posts
    February 26, 2007 5:52 AM EST
    When we were getting started, we were trying to develop a customer service policy that would cover us when things go wrong (we do cookies, so when people don`t like their order, it doesn`t arrive, or arrives late due to USPS traffic, and everything else customers can think of that is bothering them that particular day).  It was turning into a convoluted bunch of rules, I could no longer follow (and b/c we were newbies, we were following other peoples way of doing customer service...bad idea).

    In the end it dawned on us, that we were finally in charge and decided to go with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  It makes it easy for us to follow (when the customer is not happy, we do what they want: refund money or ship them a new batch on us) AND it makes it easy for the customer to understand.  They won`t have to go through a maze or multiple people to get their issue resolved.  So far we have had excellent success.

    As far as the rude people are concerned, I definitely feel for you.  Anyone working with the public has to somehow get through the day without going insane but what makes it worse for you is that you are on the frontline, not your bosses, so it`s easy for them to tell you how to deal with these customers.

    You should be proud of yourself for wanting something more and something you can oversee.  I would never go back to working for someone else now that I have had a taste of the freedom of working for myself.  Having control beats out everything!

    Good luck with your endeavor and next time someone behaves badly, just think to yourself, that what goes around, comes around.  The more good kharma points you collect, the more you can cash in when entreprenuership gets crazy!

    Warm regards,
    When-Dee Morrison
    owner, FAT Cookie

    www.fatcookie.com

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    When-Dee Morrison
    owner, Fat Cookie

    http://www.fatcookie.com

    Choose Dough. +Add Stuff. "Name It!"

    • 70 posts
    February 14, 2007 6:15 PM EST
    If you treat your customer good and with outstanding service, you`ll see better results.  In addition, keep in touch with your customers.  They will feel good knowing you want to ensure their success.