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Guest Blog: 5 Signs It’s Time to Fire a Customer

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Collin Burke writes about when it’s time to fire the customer. I believe that some customers aren’t worth doing business with.  It’s okay. Toxic customers may be bad for you and your company’s health.  Shep Hyken

We’ve all heard the age-old expression: The customer is always right. It has a nice ring to it. But anyone who thinks critically about this statement for half a second knows that it’s simply not true.

The issue with this claim lies in the word always – it’s clearly an exaggeration. Very few things are always the case, especially in the complicated world of customer service.

Sure, it’s important to accommodate and avoid confronting your customers. But there are plenty of occasions when customers are straight up wrong. Bowing down to every single customer who pays you a dime is not the right way to provide customer service.

When customers are wrong, there’s no real reason to pretend that they are right – it’s an unproductive waste of time. And when customers do wrong by disrespecting you or other members of your team, they shouldn’t get away with it just because we’ve been told all of our lives that they are always right.

In certain instances, customers are so wrong that you should let them go. That’s right – sometimes it’s actually okay to fire a customer.

Here are 5 signs that it’s time to fire a customer:

  1. They are abusive.

You shouldn’t put up with customers who cross the line. There’s a difference between being annoying and being abusive. If a customer regularly loses their cool and kills your team’s morale, then they’re not worth your time. Stand up for your team for the sake of your culture.

  1. They threaten you.

Some customers will have problems so complex that they keep you up at night as you constantly strive to find a resolution. However, customers should never keep you up at night because they make you feel anxious about what they might do to harm your business (e.g. bashing you on social media). Receiving real threats from customers should not be tolerated. At some point, you need to put your foot down.

  1. They lie to you.

And not just a white lie – I’m talking about a lie that totally screws you over. If a lie from a customer costs you business, then you should ask yourself: Are they worth it?

  1. They don’t pay you.

Customers need to hold up their end of the deal. But sometimes, they try to sneakily get away without making their payments. Customers who can’t be held financially accountable aren’t really customers – they’re more like leeches that suck resources from your organization. Parasitic business relationships are simply unsustainable.

  1. They waste your time.

There are some customers who reach out to customer service far too often, wasting your team’s valuable time and energy. As a result, your team isn’t able to spend as much time dealing with other customers. Some low-paying customers can hinder the efficiency of your team to the point where they are not worth retaining.

If you’ve noticed any of these 5 signs within your organization, you should look into which customers you should fire and how to fire a bad customer.

Don’t be held hostage by unprofessional customers. Take a stand and stick up for yourself – it’s worth it.

Want more insights on maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your customer service team? Check out this free eBook on customer service metrics.

Collin Burke is a content marketing associate at InsightSquared, a business intelligence startup based in Boston, MA. He writes about all things customer service, while focusing on reporting and analytics. You might enjoy his extensive list of 100 customer service statistics.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article:

How Online Video Can Do Double Duty For Your Company




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