The customer isn’t always right. Yes, they are stakeholders in your business. Yes, the products and services you offer are tailored to fit their needs or provide a solution to their problems. And yes, one of your responsibilities is to provide the satisfaction of their needs and experience in doing business with you. But they are far from always being right.
As business owners, we know the fear of losing a client. They are, after all, the source of our revenue. And we want to give them a valuable experience that will make them return for more. However, some clients are crappy. There are also good clients that you think might have been great partners, but unfortunately, not every glove fits.
And you don’t have to force it.
It is always a balancing act between working towards improving things your clients or customers find less-than-satisfactory and there is a line you have to draw somewhere. You don’t have to contort yourself to fit into every box. Sometimes it is better to get out and leave that box behind. Sometimes, it is better to have your client fired (or have your client fire you).
Where should we draw the line and say, “Yup, this isn’t working out. For both of our sakes, we have to let each other go.
They take more than they're worth from you and your team.
One of the basics of customer service is giving your customers what they want. However, there are times when what they want is unreasonable. You’ll have clients who are never satisfied, no matter how many iterations you’ve made based on their feedback—they just don’t seem to run out of things to nitpick.
To be fair, sometimes it might be a matter of not getting their vision right. But there are others too, who have a lot of things they “want” because they aren’t clear (to themselves) what they want.
When a client is taking up more time and resources than what they are willing to pay and when they start draining you and your team, it is time to let go. You want to provide value to your consumers, but don’t forget that you are running a business too. If you’ve done all you can but the profit margin is slowly shrinking, and it is taking time away from serving other clients who do value you, it is time to part ways.
They don’t respect you.
You are the expert. I am not saying you are always right. What I am trying to say is, they hired you for your expertise. But if your client starts walking all over you and rejecting all your recommendations, that is a sign of disrespect.
They must also be true to their end of the deal. If they aren’t keeping up with payments as agreed, they aren’t respecting you and the agreement.
Some clients will act like they own you because they pay you. Try to address the situation in a professional manner, but if they are stubborn, and you have done your best, it might be better to let go of them.
Communication is a one-way street.
Communication is important for any kind of relationship. You must have a mutually established communication process at the start of your contract. If they don’t stick to it, you address it, and it keeps on happening, and you find it harder to reach them, and they don’t give proper feedback, there is no point in keeping that business relationship.
Ask what is keeping them from communicating as agreed upon, and try making adjustments as needed. But if they still can’t commit to communicating properly, that’s a red flag. It is hard to do business with anyone when communication is a one-way street.
You’ve tried, but the relationship isn’t improving.
Just because things aren’t going right and you are thrown into an uncomfortable situation doesn’t mean you have to fire your client. However, when you have done everything you can to make it work but they show no signs of wanting to reciprocate, move on. They don’t value you and your business, and even if they are the client, you deserve that level of respect.
They make you dread going to work and doubt yourself.
This one gets pushed aside a lot. We think that as long as we get the revenue, it doesn’t matter whether we enjoyed working with a client or not. It might be true in most cases. Getting annoyed over some of their quirks is okay. But when your client makes you hate doing the work that you love, something is wrong.
Sometimes it will make you feel like you are less-than and that you are a failure. When your client sucks joy and self-confidence in the thing you do for a living, walk away. Good customer service shouldn’t come at the expense of yourself or your sanity. If they are not good for you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, fire them.
Some closing advice…
Sometimes, you think they are a perfect fit for what you offer and how you work, and you realize part of the way that they aren’t. You don’t see eye-to-eye, and you’ve done your part (and maybe more). When that happens, it is time to let it go. Do it professionally—we don’t want to burn bridges. Because maybe you aren’t a perfect fit now, but down the line, you might click. No one knows.
It is better to break things off cordially and professionally than to ruin future possibilities and even your current credibility.
Client “breakups” are difficult no matter how long you’ve been in the industry. It might make you feel horrible, but it is okay. Reflect on what didn’t work and how you could address it. Then look forward to what’s next, because there are always doors that open, and there are a lot of people you’ve worked with before who know your worth.
Keep moving forward, and thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.