You are selling to people. Having an unhappy customer or a non-ideal client is just part of business. Is the customer always right? Hell no! But in their world, their perception is right – and that is what needs to be handled quickly, efficiently and positively.
There is nothing pleasant, nor fun, about letting a client go, but it is necessary. You don’t have the time, money or energy to waste and pour into someone who will drag you down, who will never be satisfied, who doesn’t like your product or who doesn’t pay you. In a nutshell, you can’t afford to do business with them.
5 Steps To Firing A Client
Jennifer from Therapy and Learning Services says it best
If you sell a product:
- Ensure you deliver a top notch experience and product.
- Ensure timely delivery
- Ensure personable and appreciative communications
- Deliver a high quality item
- Develop a smooth fulfillment process on all orders
If you sell a service:
- Have a signed contract before any work is delivered. Moving forward without a contract, even in good faith, is the kiss of death.
- Get paid before you deliver your services. Lots of you like to fight me on this one, but this is your business. You can’t afford to work with people who are late paying or who underpay… and once your service is delivered you can’t get back that value. Cash flow is one of the biggest reasons business close – if your folks aren’t paying you, you can’t pay yourself or your team. Listen – you don’t pay for toilet paper once it’s used. ‘Nuff said.
- Clearly outline your policies and procedures to manage expectations so your customer knows what to expect.
- Overdeliver on the value you sell.
- Make it personal – your customer service and follow up will ensure your clients remain loyal to you and your brand.
When a customer complains, it is so, so easy to get your back up. Trust me, I get it. You pour your heart, sweat and tears into your business, into your baby – it’s so hard not to take negative feedback personally.
Have the mindset that an unhappy customer can help you grow as a business – listen to them. Really, really listen to what is going on. Chances are, there is – no matter how small – a level of truth in what they are saying. Use the feedback as an opportunity to fine tune your processes and get better at your craft.
We hide behind email. It is safe. Many people take great comfort lashing out and writing quite vituperative (I love that word!!) emails as they forget there is a real person on the other end reading them. That person is not you. Your road is the high road.
Please, pinky swear right now, that you will not get into a war of words on email.
Move the conversation to the phone right away. Either call them immediately, OR acknowledge receipt of the email and schedule a call. It’s amazing what happens when we attack the conversation head on, person to person, positively, with the mindset of learning from the experience and finding a productive way forward.
4. Move Forward
On the phone, ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. Your goal is to find common ground and find a productive way to move forward that benefits both you and your customer.
There is always a solution out there. It may not been evident immediately, but listen to your gut. We can’t operate our business from a place of fear – afraid of backlash and negative feedback. It is going to happen, particularly as you grow.
In the words of one Taylor Swift … “Shake It Off, Shake It Off”!
It is so easy for us to dwell on the negative and listen to that one naysayer while forgetting to listen and focus on the happy customers. Part of your solution needs to enable you to move past the negative and return to your Place of Power. When you believe, in your core, that you have the best solution out there for your customers, then you need not worry about that person who is not happy.
How do YOU remove miserable clients from your business? Have you found a strategy that worked for you?