Are You a Good Client?


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The other day as I was reviewing my notes for my webinar, I received an e-mail giving me instructions for logging into the event. I was kind of confused, since I thought I had set up everything a few weeks earlier, but who am I to question these things? However, when I attempted to sign in, in order to be sure everything was working smoothly, the login code given me didn’t work. So I called the customer service number also attached to the e-mail and realized the person who picked up the phone wasn’t sure what I was referring to either, but she promised to check into it and get back to me as soon as possible.

After I hung up, waiting for my answer, I realized the e-mail was referring to an event I was holding in October, not that day, so I was all set. I also knew, however, the individual I called was probably going crazy researching something that no longer was relevant. So I called her back to let her know the timing of the communication I received confused me, apologized for the misunderstanding, and let her know she shouldn’t waste her time any longer. She seemed genuinely surprised, relieved and appreciated the call back.

In this blog, I’m always talking about the importance of defining and delivering excellent service. However, just as everyone on this planet has customers and needs to deliver excellent service, everyone of us also is a customer. As such, we all need to value the individual who genuinely tries to deliver excellent service and respect people as human beings. Some people are what I call chronic toxic customers, however. They fall into a few categories:

The ‘screaming’ customer – This customer yells in order to achieve results and belittles everyone they come in contact with. They can use abusive language and are intolerant of everything and everyone. Tactics for dealing with difficult clients sometimes don’t work. I once read about this customer service representative who had an accent. She finally had to quit her job because of the personal derogatory remarks made, and the impact the comments had on her self-worth and her family life. Bottom line, screaming customers are very costly in the impact they have on morale and turnover.

The ‘never satisfied’ customer – This customer consistently causes a ruckus and forces everyone to scurry around in order to appease them. Even when the impossible is delivered, they are still unsatisfied. These customers may constantly demand the unreasonable and occasionally even the illegal. The amount of attention these clients need has to be taken into account, because the attention paid to them is time that cannot be spent with other clients.

The ‘no show’ customer – This customer makes appointments and doesn’t show, or is late and doesn’t call. Even when you call to confirm the appointment (which you should do), they still are late or don’t show. Being late is one thing. Not calling to let the person know, who is providing service, and doing this habitually? This is a tough customer to keep, unless you charge a premium, because they take twice the amount of time to achieve the results of another customer who is able to value great service.

The ‘you lose’ customer- This customer equates good customer service with a loss for the service provider. I once read about this woman who wrote about all her poor customer service experiences, and how she screamed, berated and belittled her service providers all in an attempt to show them the error of their ways. The only time she was happy? When a service provider clearly took a loss providing her with service. Having done a lot of work with various vendors, when I worked in a corporate environment, I always appreciated it when I found great service. I then did everything possible to ensure a win/win situation so they were able to continue to provide excellent service. If the vendor or service provider is losing money providing service, there should be concern on the part of the client, as this is an economic model that is not maintainable.

There are ways to cope with difficult clients and every attempt should be made to define and consistently deliver an excellent experience. However, the relationship with chronic toxic customers should be evaluated in order to determine whether or not that relationship is worth the damage to the employee morale, time investment or profitability hit necessary in order to make that relationship work. And we, as service providers, should also make sure we are good customers.


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