The chat sites are full of conversations that deal with customer service and asking, “Are you doing the best job to keep your customers happy?” However, I read very little about the issues of how to deal with a bad customer relationship. We all have them and we all try hard to keep that customer. We have been taught that we are not doing a good job if the customer is not happy and that it cost thousands of dollars to get a new customer. But what does it cost to keep a bad customer?
I recently was visiting with a friend who is an Account Manager for a national landscape company and he was describing a situation in which a customer was being unreasonable and that he was taking advantage of issues from the past. First, let’s get it on the table. Problems with customers should never be allowed to linger because at some point those issues come back to hurt you and the company. He stated that the customer kept demanding more of the crews and of him and it was beginning to affect his other customers. He has tried to work with the customer to resolve the issues, but it is never enough. He has taken his concerns to his Branch Manager, but nothing has been done.
This raises the concern that no one is winning in this scenario and keeping a customer that is draining the life out of your employees is not productive for the customer or your staff. It would seem to me that it is time for the Branch Manager to step forward and tell the customer that it is time to part company. We all know the pressures that the Manager is under to retain all the customers and this is not only happens in large corporate structures. No one wants to lose customers. It is costing the company valuable resources to keep a relationship that can’t be salvaged. In the long term the customer is not being serviced by a relationship that has soured. It is time to say “no” to the customer.
There are many reasons that we lose customers; financial situations, pricing, mistakes in service, and many other reasons, but to continue this type of relationship is not good business. It is in your company’s best interest to let them go and revisit the account after some time has past. Many times allowing a cooling off period is helpful and constructive. The customer may find that your company’s service was not as bad as they made it sound. This becomes a win – win for all parties. Your staff knows that you listen to them and respect their concerns and the customer can move on to another company that does not create such conflict.