Post a new topic
    23 Replies Latest reply on Nov 23, 2008 1:41 AM by intechspecial

    How do you deal with a difficult customer?

    intechspecial Ranger
      I have my own methods for dealing with a difficult customer, but sometimes it is inevitable that a customer will have a bad affect on your business.

      I had one customer that requested my paying services(my company is based in free web design).

      This customer became the most difficult one to deal with to date. Irrational requests & demands, unfounded & paranoid accusations, along with minimal pay made it next to impossible to satisfy their requirements.

      The really difficult thing about this customer is that they were well connected with local business and politics.

      I ended up suffering immensely from this customer's paranoia and unrealistic demands, as they were able to establish with all their assoicates their viewpoint to be fact.

      So my questions is this, how do you deal with a difficult customer?
        • Re: How do you deal with a difficult customer?
          amspcs Ranger
          I guess the answer to your question hinges on just how important this particular customer is to the
          survival or success of your business. If you have no leverage and are totally dependent on thsi customer,
          than you have no real choice other than to just grin and bear it.

          On the other hand, if you have an otherwise healthy and sound business and customer mix, my position has always been that life is too short to put up with unnecessary aggravation. In addition to this personal side, there is also the business side to consider: In other words, if a customer providing you with 10% of your revenue stream takes up 60% of your time and resources, that doesn't compute---time to dump that customer before his demands result in your neglecting your other customers and they begin to flee.

          So I would suggest you resort to basic common sense to make your decision. You know deep in your heart if this customer is worth the trouble. If the answer is NO, then your first step should be to confront this customer and make an attempt to correct the inappropriate behavior. If this doesn't work, then do not hesitate to "fire" him.

            • Re: How do you deal with a difficult customer?
              intechspecial Ranger
              Thanks for your reply.

              I did fire this customer and was gracious and kind in doing so.

              There was still a backlash for doing so, and the backlash continues even though it was over a year ago.

              How would you suggest I deal with the backlash? On a local level I have had no success both in offering free web design services or paying work, this customer was one of my only local customers, and I do not dare to try again on a local level as fear the same thing will happen, and my reputation has already been destroyed.

              On a world wide level I have been successful, and my clients value what I do for them immensely. Unfortunately locally this does not seem possible, no matter how hard I try.

            • Re: How do you deal with a difficult customer?
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              There are customers who have a lot of political power and influence within certain communities and/or industries. If you had such a customer who is truly a "bully" and unfairly assaulted your reputation, then is a surefire guarantee that you are not the only person that has happened to -- your potential clients are the hundreds of other local individuals and businesses that have been treated the same rotten way over the years.

              On the other hand, if there are NOT a lot of other local individuals or businesses who've experienced the same kind of "backlash" you have, then you might want to face the fact that you really messed up in this case -- and learn the lesson that this customer is trying to teach you. If you continue to insist that you were right when you weren't, things will only get worse. Admitting your mistakes, apologizing for them, demonstrating exactly what you learned from them, and showing what you've done to ensure that they don't happen again -- all that allows you to wipe the slate and move forward.

              Nobody goes into business knowing everything -- we all make mistakes. Our business reputations are only "destroyed" when potential customers are convinced that we intend to keep making the SAME mistakes. Is that what your local customers think about you (and if so, how come)?
                • Re: How do you deal with a difficult customer?
                  intechspecial Ranger
                  This is absolutely true.

                  Let me tell you a little more about this customer, we will name them "Joe".

                  They needed a website but were on a budget, I worked with them on this level.

                  They also needed a logo designed, as well as the site to be listed #1 in google.

                  I designed a logo, to their complete satisfaction.

                  I also designed the website to thier complete satisfaction except for the following items:

                  The keyword they requested came up number 1 in a matter of a few weeks, They were not happy as this took to long and not all pages were listed in google as number 1. I think out of the 7 pages 5 came up on the first page in google, with 2 pages number 1 and 2 on the first page.

                  The site navigation was structured like you would see any other site, navigation buttons leading to different pages. This client had just recently learned to use a computer and the internet, so they were not able to navigate any website(other then google for a search or yahoo to look at confusing email), and got confused when they clicked on a button and new content came up. They did not understand why this happened and found fault in what I was doing.

                  So after spending well over 30 hours and a profit of $150, I simply stated to the client that I did not feel I was the best match for his needs, and that I am sorry it did not work out. I stated to him that I am sure he could find a web design company that could do better.

                  After tearing into my reputation, later he asked that I do more work for him, as he could not find anyone better at my rate. He was suddenly extremely satisfied with my work, and complimented me on all levels. I said I did not think I would meet his needs and told him politely no. He went on to further the negativity of my business and how dissatisfied my work was.
                    • Re: How do you deal with a difficult customer?
                      intechspecial Ranger

                      If I might ad, my business reputation is already destroyed because of having a disability that is misunderstood.

                      So it would not take much for someone to further destroy a reputation that is aleady "shakey".

                      Who trusts someone with a mental illness?

                      Who if anyone would want to do business with someone with a mental illness?

                      Very few if any, thats who.



                      So my first break to work with a customer and I get the worse possible customer possible.
                  • Re: How do you deal with a difficult customer?
                    triplert3 Adventurer
                    Oh God! Ive had so many. First thing is to change your attitude and your approach because you sure can not change his. Second ,dont make yourself so available to him. Everybody got call waiting! ;o) Third change your committments with him, refer him to several other businessess that may fit some of his needs, but keep him close, dont get rid of all your business connections with him. If that doesnt work send him to Heaven.
                    • Re: How do you deal with a difficult customer?
                      At my old job, i had a 2x4 with a nail in it.. Mmm... let's see someone talk back to that :)

                      In all seriousness, now. I deal with difficult customers by first listening to what their demands are, and then explaining (if applicable) why I am unable to help them. If they do not like my response, then I simply reassure them that I am doing everything in my power to help. If things continue on like they are, I give them one final explaination of our miscommunication. If it gets to such a point that it affects business, I will refer them to another provider and drop them as a client.