How to Walk Away from a Bad Customer

Walk away from a bad customer - and save your business. There's customer service, and then there's unreasonable customer service. Learn to recognize these signs that your customer should be let go:

  • The customer requires more resources and time for projects, which actually ends up costing you money.
  • The customer bad-mouths your company with unusual frequency.
  • The customer's expectations are unreasonable.

As I've discussed before on this blog, the customer isn't always right. So, when they are showing signs of harming your business (worst case scenario), do due diligence to make it right. If that doesn't work, here's how to graciously step out.

Too-Costly Projects
First, decide your contract threshold. For example, if a customer requires far more preventative maintenance service calls than the contract states, decide how much you'll do before calling it quits. To avoid any disputes later, fully explain all key terms of the contract prior to signing. While some think this is a sales kill, the customer will fully appreciate your honesty later on.

Frequent Complaints
Upon first complaint, always try to resolve the problem in-person. The trick to excellent customer service is promptness, not just throwing in extras. The customer with good intentions just wants the problem solved through a company's detailed care. The customer with bad intentions will quickly show his or her true colors when your best service is never good enough.

Unreasonable Expectations
Explain to the customer why their expectations don't fit your company's resources. Simply thank him or her for their business and refer them to a great (non-competing) company that could probably help them. Once you've done due diligence, you don't need to do all the leg work in taking them to their next stage.

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