Nobody likes to deal with terrible customers. But the fact is, businesses will always have these bad types of customers especially service-based businesses.
For old-timer business owners, I’m sure they know this well and probably have a system in place to handle these types of customers. But what about the business owners who have just started out?
This episode of The Freedom In Five Minutes Podcast is all about aggressive and unfriendly customers, why businesses never run out of them, how to avoid them, and the best ways to deal with them.
If you are a business owner who has bad customers that have stressed you out, listen in and you just might learn a few things that could take your business to the next level!
Overview & Episode Content
- Why Do Businesses Never Run Out of Bad Customers?
- The Best Way to React to Bad Customers
- Top Lessons on Dealing with Bad Customers
- What are the Types of People You Want to Work With?
- How Important is Customer Communication?
- The Problem with Bad Customers Falls on the Business Owner
Why Do Businesses Never Run Out of Bad Customers?
I think that it is safe to say that no business owners — in their right mind — would say that aggressive and unfriendly customers are their favorites. The fact is that business owners never run out of these types of customers, especially in the service industry.
As a matter of fact, I have one customer in particular who took a long time to come on board. Part of the reason why they took so long was that they were in the older generation and were very old-school.
During the sales call, they were impressed with the idea of having Virtual Systems Architects in their team and the potential impact on scaling their business. It was all roses and butterflies.
Next, they were in the process of being introduced to our Virtual Systems Architect. But throughout the onboarding calls and process, these customers have been very adversarial.
My general manager does all of the onboarding calls. And part of these calls are recommendations of tools that we think really help with communication and project management. These tools are also what we use and enjoy at Pro Sulum.
What happened was these customers did not want these tools that we highly recommended to be used along with our VSA. They were old school and uninterested in bringing any more new stuff to their system.
Now, the irony was that the reason why they needed a VSA in the first place was because of the fact that they were old school and they needed to do things better and do things in a much more effective way to scale their business.
The Best Way to React to Bad Customers
Another unfriendly customer we had in Pro Sulum was someone who used multiple domains when sending emails to us. Now, it is important to remember that we always have an influx of customers over here at Pro Sulum.
And to keep up with that influx of different customers, we use a project management tracker for all our customers. And naturally, my general manager assumed that the email domain that the customer used was their business name.
So, when the VSA was introduced to this customer, they immediately shot back saying that it was the wrong business name and demanding that the VSA best be aware of the correct business they are working for.
Another customer refused to give our VSA vacation days and holiday leaves. Our VSAs are human beings too! Virtual System Architects are people who have lives and families just like everybody else.
It made me wonder where all these bad customers come from.
Before, my reaction to all of this would have been to shoot back and email them, “Hey buddy, listen. If you want to work with us, you gotta stop being a jerk and follow our system.”
I defend my guys fiercely. My initial reaction would be to defend everyone who works for me. But the best thing that I have learned to do is to simply wait a few hours before responding.
Top Lessons on Dealing with Bad Customers
I fiercely defend the people who work for me. But the worst way to deal with aggressive and unfriendly types of people is to respond right away at a time when everyone is very emotional and volatile. Wait a few hours. Do not let your emotions get to you.
The second best thing I have learned to do is to let my guy handle these customers.
I do not want to come in swinging if my guy handles the situation and wants to handle it. I want him to be able to get the skills necessary to quell situations like these. It is never fair for him if I jump in all the time.
And lastly, I can easily develop a process specially made for these types of scenarios. If someone is being aggressive, there are things that I always include in the emails small things like, “Oh I understand.” or “Your point is valid.”
The fact is that a lot of the time, you do not know what is going on with these bad customers. They might be going through something personal and they are excited to get started despite all the personal stuff that is going on in their lives.
What are the Types of People You Want to Work With?
In fact, right now, I sound wonderful and happy-go-lucky but I have had a pretty rough day. My days this week sucked — just to be completely honest. And that is why my bad days kind of bleed through to my podcast because I wanted to have a negative topic where I can vent through.
It is going to bleed into my business too. Even with Paul, my business partner, I apologized to him today for my short answers to everything in our business chat because I’m having a bad day. It’s only natural that our personal stuff bleeds into everything that we do.
So, you don’t know what’s going on in a bad customer’s life.
The next most important question to ask is this, “Are they the kind of people that you want to work with?”
They might have gone through all your hoops, they might have looked amazing and great clients that you are super excited to work with. But then, things changed. Do you really want to work with these people?
I have fired many customers over the years and I have no problem telling a customer to go away because I would rather not work with them, give them back their money, and cancel everything than to be in a bad business relationship with someone.
How Important is Customer Communication?
The next question to ask is, did you do something wrong? Did you do something that is outside of your process? Have you done something to upset the customers?
Do not be afraid to ask. Most of the time, especially with email, there is no intonation and emotional context. You cannot tell how someone is talking. They might be a little sarcastic and tongue in cheek but the way that you read it might seem like they are being nasty.
You can always ask, “Hey, is there something wrong? It sounds like you might be upset with how things are going. Do you have any questions or is there anything that I can help with?”
Feel free to ask. There is nothing wrong with asking. It makes you a better person anyway.
Remember, email is very deceptive. You do not know what someone sounds like through email. People do not have the ability yet to have any type of intonation through email. So, things can be misconstrued big time.
Now, I am not saying that they could totally be aggressive and they could truly be customers who are not a good fit but you have to keep in mind that emails are very deceptive.
I remember when I was working with Boeing. There were times when people would send me an email and I thought the sender was a jerk. It turned out that it was not their intention to be mean after all.
Boeing is a huge company and everyone in there uses email to communicate back and forth.
The fact is, it can be very difficult to tell how someone is coming across through email. To me, email is a great medium for quick facts but not so great for long-winded communications.
The Problem with Bad Customers Falls on the Business Owner
Finally, see that the problem with aggressive customers usually falls on you, the business owner.
Do you really, truly want a customer in a specific industry, belonging to a specific age, gender, etc…? With the way that you do your lead generation, are you simply trying to get just any customer? Are you trying to simply get as much money as possible without discriminating?
When it comes to business and customers, I love to be discriminating.
In this particular case with the old-school clients, I was a little hesitant with them and I should have gone with my gut.
People who are of an old-school mindset are not a good fit for me. In the old way of doing business, nothing gets documented. Information simply gets brain dumped on staff members. These types of business owners do not do well with the things we do at Pro Sulum.
I weed these customers out as fast as possible because nothing good ever comes out of the relationship with them. These types of customers can cause your business growth to become retarded and the last thing I want for my business.
Our process is simple — record your process five minutes a day and let the VSA document it for you. After that, the VSA can do the task! This simple system can give you massive results.
And so, I have no hesitation in saying, “You’ll have great results 99% of the time if you follow our system. If you don’t, 99% of the time it’s going to suck for you. If you want to be old school and wanna do things the old way, go somewhere else. Go find a Virtual Assistant and waste 6 months training them. Fail. Waste another 6 months and end up back on square one.”
You might not agree with me and think that I am being mean. But I am not. This is better for both parties. I will not be wasting their time, and they will not be wasting mine.
If customers do not understand your business system, I really do not see the point in having the relationships continued.
Make sure that you have a good process of weeding out bad clients. Why is this important? It is important because you want to work with people who are a good match for you and you enjoy working with them.
To be honest, I have stepped away from businesses and products simply because I did not like 90% of the people who buy these things. I simply did not like the industry.
There are products that do really well but I stepped away from them anyway because I would rather focus on working with people that match well with me.
In fact, even in Pro Sulum and Freedom In Five Minutes, there are specific industries that I do not like serving. One of those industries is the financial services because it is such an old-school market that I’m pretty sure about shutting off soon. I only have a few of those types of clients left that are great customers. Only 99% of financial services and advisors are not great clients for me. And I do not want to be a part of it.
“Are you losing money by being picky with clients?” one might wonder.
Yes, but I am going to pick it up somewhere else. I am going to have a banquet table somewhere else and I will enjoy it. Most importantly, I will get to work with the people I like working with and who like working with me.
Resources and Links
This is Dean Soto, your host of The Freedom In Five Minutes Podcast. Go check out FreedomInFiveMinutes.com. There is a lot of cool stuff there such as business process scorecards and a masterclass.
Also, visit ProSulum.com. And if you try to leave the site and move your mouse up, you will get a pop up that grants you access to a 4-part video course that is pretty cool.