Good customer service dictates that we should love our customers and bend over backwards for them whilst going the extra mile. This is the mantra we should all live by because the customer is the business and business is the customer and that’s just the way it is. BUT…………

We must acknowledge that there are customers who are a royal pain! I’m not talking about challenging customers who complain and get us out of our comfort zones to be more creative and solution oriented. No. Not those ones. Not the ones who ‘make noise’ with a view to having their grievances resolved so that they may return. No. Not those ones either. I’m talking about problem customers. The ones, who completely drain you, drain the business, drain the staff and drain everything valuable to the organization – time, resources and money.

First, let it be clear that you must identify these customers and second, after identification, you must DITCH them immediately! Divorce them! Let go of them and run without ever looking back!

Strange customer service advice right?

However radical, this is just the way things need to be done in order to keep sanity alive and the enterprise going. There’s a common saying that you cannot please everyone. That is just the way the world works. Whilst maintaining an excellent customer service ethic in dealing with customers, it is important to not allow these exceptional few to derail you. And in general they are an exception rather than the norm. There will always be that customer who behaves in a manner that would have the team cringe at the thought of them and dread any interaction with them.

Let’s be clear here…. these are the types who:

  • Constantly manifest abusive tendencies to you and your staff, where the abuse may be verbal or physical. No matter what the problem is, there is really no need for a customer to be constantly abusive. There are instances where it may be an overreaction to something, and often genuine customers have been known to come back and apologize for their over-reaction. But a customer who is constantly abusive? No. No. Ditch Them!
  • Constantly issue threats to you and your staff, where these threats take the shape of violent threats, threats to your physical wellbeing, threats to go to the competition, threats to take the complaint to social media and other public places, and threats to have your business closed down. No. No. Ditch Them!
  • Constantly make unreasonable demands on you and your staff. These types constantly try to take advantage of your business for their gain. This could take the shape of wanting unreasonable refunds, wanting free services rendered, wanting more than they paid for and wanting to constantly be waited upon over and above the scope of the business transaction. No. No. Ditch Them!
  • Constantly flout your payment terms. These customers completely ignore the payment terms on your contracts and invoices, demand huge unreasonable discounts not inclusive in your agreements and that are injurious to the business, have you run into debt trying to service the impact of their non-payment. No. No. Ditch Them!

Problem customers are extremely toxic and as with all things toxic, the great author Israelmore Ayivor tells us to “Save your skin from the corrosive acids from the mouths of toxic people.” These customers usurp the precious time you and your team need to focus on taking care of and delighting other customers. There is no return on investment for babysitting problem customers of this nature.

Granted it is not easy, but it is in every business’ best interests to bite the bullet and in the most professional manner possible, part ways in the most professional manner possible. Please remember that the golden rule of handling all customers with courtesy, dignity and respect still applies here. With utmost professionalism, cut off the customer and let them go gently. In all the research I’ve done on this topic this fantastic blog by Nicholas Reese has by far the best description of scripts available that can be customized to use to let go of your problem customer.

So yes…… it today today today! Take action. Protect yourself and your team. You owe them that much.  Protect your business from the financial and emotional trauma of problem customers. You owe the business that much. And most importantly STOP thinking about, worrying about and strategizing how to handle that customer. Just DITCH Them! Because “Letting toxic people go is not an act of cruelty, it’s an act of self-care.” – Author Unknown