The customer is always right—unless, of course, they’re wrong. And the customer can be wrong, as well as demanding, unreasonable, stubborn and even unfair. But when chronic bad behaviour makes a regular customer unprofitable—or pulls too many resources away from profitable or prospective customers—it’s probably time for a divorce.
Holland Landing, Ont.-based Schleese Saddlery Service Ltd. manufactures custom made adjustable riding saddles for an elite clientele. Getting such a highly specialized product to meet the exacting specifications of customers around the world requires time and patience, says co-owner Sabine Schleese. But there are limits.
There have been times when we have been forced to admit that we will probably never be able to make certain customers happy, no matter what we do,” says Schleese. “At that point, I just suggest that they might be better off working with a different company.”
Another problem customer is the one who is always beating you down on price and looking for “deal sweeteners,” steadily eating into your profit margin over time.
But the worst offenders are customers who have a nasty habit of stretching your 30-day terms to 60 days, then 90 and more.
When you do decide to show your problem customer the door, it is important to remain both professional and polite. “An angry customer probably won’t come back, but a really angry customer will tell 10 other people how rotten you are,” says Schleese. “And with social media now, bad news travels a lot faster.”