Fire Your Problem Customers - Experience?

9 replies

I'm sure most of you have dealt with a bad customer in the past.

I came across this article where Perry Marshall goes into saying not to deal with problem customers and fire them if they bring nothing to the bottom line and take up more of your resources that you can be applying to your good customers.

The 80/20 Rule of Sales: How to Find Your Best Customers

Has anyone ever parted ways with bad/problem customers? What was your best method in doing this, killing them with kindness or taking a more direct approach?

Thank you!
#customers #experience #problem
  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    I had an experience quite awhile back which taught me that your greatest critic can become your greatest supporter.

    I agree that getting rid of the bad apples in your barrel is a good thing . . . but first, make the effort to "convert" your problem customers into believers.

    You do that by bending over backwards and fixing whatever needs fixing, even if it requires you to spend a little money and time that you don't with other customers.

    Once you "turn" the critic into a friend, you have a wonderful source for a testimonial that really rocks!

    Make the effort to help the customer. Show him that you really do care. Get personal. After you've made the effort, if the person still wants to complain when you've done everything possible to fix the situation . . . then say goodbye (but still let the person know they are welcome back on your terms.)


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  • Profile picture of the author barbling
    It depends upon what mood I'm in. Life is too short to deal with people who make lemons look sweet. I have no problem firing customers; if they are not a match for what I offer, life happens.

    Hope that helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    Has anyone ever parted ways with bad/problem customers?

    What was your best method in doing this, killing them with kindness or taking a more direct approach?
    Case by case.

    I was reading in a WSO thread recently where a popular vendor (I promote their stuff) refunded (without request) and blocked the IP of someone who was asking stupid questions that had been answered several times.

    It also and in my case more often pertains to prospects. I learned from one of the old school mail order gurus something like: "95% of your prospects will never buy a thing. Concentrate on the 5% who will."

    I routinely simple stop replying to a lot of people who contact me with questions because no matter how well you answer them they just keep coming back with more questions. They want me to tell them what the dream sellers do and when I don't they think phrasing the same query in different words will get me to reveal the "secret."

    It's another case of knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeMiller
    There is always a reason why you want to fire a specific customer. In my experience the best choise is - of course after trying to convert them to good customers, like @Steve B said - to be objective, explain them why you can't do business with them anymore, and let them know, that if this changes, they are welcome to come back. Just keep your feelings to yourself. You may wish them to hell, but that's not professional, while being objective, and backed up with reasons is.

    I have to say that you should always assess whether it's worth working with a customer. At one client we actually found, that one of their biggest customers was also one of the most problematic, tying down a lot of resources to deal with their problems, and there was no success changing that. In the end the company actually sacrificed the client who brought in like 10% of their revenue (in the million dollar range), but still came out highly profitable from this decision. It is however not easy to let go such a big client, but sometimes you have to make the hard decisions...
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I think WalMart gets more customer complaints than Macy's.

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  • Profile picture of the author roxelgestiada
    As much as possible, your goal is to retain customers for your products/services. If you are working as a customer service, you should focus on the customer's satisfaction. However, you should also gauge if the request is possible to accomplish.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    Depends what you mean by "problem".


    I'm far more tolerable of people who honestly want help, than bad attitude.

    I've brainstormed + helped people for hours. It's what I love to do. (I never said I was a entrepreneurial genius haha. Helping people often doesn't pay as well as strictly marketing).

    Anyway, it's negativity that causes me to draw the line.

    That's a "true" problem customer. Bad attitudes and negativity are contagious.
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  • Profile picture of the author Luke Dennison
    If you can find a way to make the customer still pay, and not be such a burden on you, it will always be better than firing them.
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  • Profile picture of the author ewritezone
    Thanks for the article man. It was certainly an eye opener.

    I guess saying "no" is a part of Business 101. I've failed to do that a number of times and faced unnecessary grief.

    Most of the time, the problem customers are the ones who order the least, at the least possible rate we could offer (they generally want enormous discounts) and expect the world for it.

    I've learned to differentiate between the good and bad apples over the years, and would like to believe I'll not make the same mistakes in the future.

    So yes, focus on the 20% who bring 80% of your profit, but also focus on bringing in more customers like that. You don't want to be left with a huge loss of income when one of your big customers leaves you.
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