Five Things to Consider When Firing a Customer – and How to Do It

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Firing Unreasonable Customers. Five Things to Consider When Firing a Customer – and How to Do It

Anyone who has worked in retail knows the adage, “The customer is always right.” They also know it isn’t always true. Issues are bound to arise, but most are resolvable, and more often than not, it is possible to win over unhappy customers. However, occasionally, the customer – not the company – is the problem. A September article by Helen Heidel for Content Snare, a content and document collection software, outlines a few types of customers that you are likely better off without. “Not every client relationship will serve you, and that’s okay,” writes Heidel.

Identifying Problematic Client Types

The most obvious kind of customer who isn’t a good fit is an aggressive person who speaks to you or your employees in disparaging or unprofessional ways. Then there’s the “always right” customer, who is unwilling to consider other opinions or suggestions, no matter the circumstance. This type of customer never agrees or listens to anyone but themselves. More subtle types of clients who might not be a good fit are those who are unorganized (frequently rescheduling or canceling meetings) or don’t respect boundaries, such as expecting replies at all hours of the day. In any relationship, it’s important to maintain a certain level of trust – dishonest clients can make it difficult to do business successfully.

Did any of those sound like someone you know? If so, it might be time to terminate the relationship. A recent article written by Elizabeth Wellington for Help Scout, a help desk software company based in Boston, Massachusetts, shares four tips for firing customers – the right way. Before terminating them, confirm that you’ve exhausted all possible avenues for reconciliation. Ready to proceed? Read on.

Preparing to Part Ways

Step 1

Set up a meeting before speaking to the customer, consider setting up a meeting and including multiple people at your company who have had issues with them. When making big decisions, it’s important to gather multiple viewpoints. Having all available information will help inform your approach.

Step 2

Consider the financial impact before firing the client, create a comprehensive financial overview of how the loss of their business will impact yours. Depending upon the size of the loss, know what steps you’ll need to take to replenish that income before it’s gone. While each case will be different, consider giving the client a partial or full refund of their money as a gesture of goodwill, if it makes sense.

Step 3

Select the messenger deciding what channel, you’ll use to end the relationship (phone call, Zoom or an in-person meeting) is as important as choosing the messenger or messengers. The person tasked with delivering the news should understand the situation and have the right temperament for delivering difficult news. Avoid communicating by less personal methods such as texts and email.

Step 4

Communicate effectively tackle the tough conversation by striking the right tone of polite and professional but neutral. Avoid overly positive or flowery language. Eschew scripts or formulas. Terminating a client relationship is highly personal, and your response should be specific to the situation and straightforward. If you’re letting go of an aggressive client, don’t let them try to talk down to you or change your mind – be firm but clear that the relationship is over and there’s no path for reconciliation.

Why Letting Go Is Good for Business

Ending relationships can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that when it comes to unreasonable customers, you and your business will be better off without them.