When it comes to a negative client, the first thing we think about is figuring out how to work with them. How to talk to them correctly and solve their problems. How to be polite, patient, and not throw your laptop out the window after another conversation. How to recover from emotional fatigue caused by the client. And so on and so forth. In this article, I will remind you of a radical, but super-effective solution: say goodbye to such a client. To do this and breathe a sigh of relief, follow these recommendations.
The terrorist client. Constantly and intentionally attacks your team, swears, shows aggression. The blackmailer client. Threatens to leave you if their demands are not met.
The modify-this client. Your product doesn't suit them so they are always dissatisfied.
Why you can let a client go
Don't rush to delete a customer from the CRM because they called your product or service bad in the heat of the moment. Complex customer interactions happen all the time, and any feedback, even negative, is an opportunity to improve the quality of your product or service. Therefore, it is important to develop criteria when the intensity of solving work issues with the client turns into a protracted war that sucks the strength of your team and does not bring money to the company. Here are 3 main red flags for when you should think about saying goodbye:
How to know when it's time to "fire" a client
The terrorist client Terrorists usually pop up for a reason: the trigger for them is when you mess up somewhere at least once. And if that happens, they aim weapons of mass destruction at your team. Now, at every opportunity, they will either look for new problems or constantly recall old ones, and maintain an aggressive tone with your team even when discussing standard matters. This will greatly frustrate the team, and you risk losing soldiers.
Fire the client after 2 warnings, if there are no objective reasons for complaints.
The blackmailer client Customers come daily with requests: create a feature, give a certificate, return the money, change the product. Things get hard when you can't fulfill their request. A healthy client explains the situation in detail: why they need it, why it is important, what will happen if they don't get it, and then they listen and accept alternatives. The blackmailer client resorts to blackmail and threats: "If you don't [...], then I'll…" And the threat could be anything from going to your competitors to writing a complaint to the President, or publishing a post on Facebook to ruin your reputation. You certainly do not want to lose the client, so you do your best to satisfy their request. Then it repeats again, and again, and again.
Fire the client when the cost of resolving the blackmailer's issues exceeds the risks of the blackmail threat.
I'm tired, I'm leaving
The modify-this client This is the most difficult type of customer, because the people who want to improve your product can be the best and worst customers. A candidate for dismissal stands out with a wishlist which is not compatible with what you do, and all the workarounds that you offer are not suitable for them. You sell red apples and you have it written on the sign of your store, and they come and demand green, or even pears. It's all fruit, so why don't you expand the range, that way you will get more visitors. And the arguments seem reasonable to you and you are already beginning to rewrite your backlog… Stop!
Fire the client when you have confirmed that these improvements 1) are not needed by any of your other clients 2) do not match your development plan 3) demand more efforts for development and support from your team than the client is willing to pay for.
When you do?
How to say goodbye correctly
1.Take care of the legal aspects in advance: the contract must contain a clause that you have the right to terminate the service in certain cases. Consult a lawyer on how best to formulate this clause to protect you from toxic clients.
2. Collect information about the client: all conversations and correspondence with them, all the problems that they reported, all bad and good reviews. Make sure that the client really had a toxic influence, and it isn't that you messed up a million times and he or she is justly dissatisfied.
3. Calculate how much you spent on supporting, developing and servicing this particular client, and the hours of all employees, from support to testers. How much will you lose if they leave? Perhaps you will benefit.
4. Talk to the client. Sending them a formal email that you no longer want to do business with them is the same as breaking up with someone via SMS — it is wrong and not nice. Choose your words: explain that you're losing money on them and it is not profitable not only for you, but also for the client. Help the customer find an alternative to your product and arrange a relocation. Exhale with relief.
5. What if you can't fire them under the terms of the contract? Limit the toxic effect of the customer. Determine clearly what is included and not included in their service, where the limits of your product and service capabilities end. To protect yourself from terrorists, make a note in the CRM for the team that you should communicate with the client in a special way: formally, on business, and no longer than 1 minute. Reduce the number of channels where they can contact you — for example, let them send their outrage letters only by email. Usually, when creating conditions where it is no longer possible to complain, the client decides to leave on their own. Or, they think about their behavior, stay and behave well.
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