5 indications that this customer ain’t worth the effort
In the ultracompetitive, low margin business of being a wholesaler, customers are hard to get and abundance of choice means agents can be hard to keep.
Last week we had a case of no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, and no matter how above expectation the outcome, the customer was going to complain. When it happens, the patterns are often consistent.
Here are my five points on recognising a customer that is not worth keeping
The patterns are all wrong
When certain events happen, you generally know the process they will go through. You know the way your business runs better than anyone. You know the strengths, weaknesses and personalities of your staff.
We have refined our customer service processes over the past decade to have an excellent strike rate. When all of a sudden you get a “outlier” reaction to a typically tried and tested method of resolving an issue, take notice. Quickly.
Communication loses etiquette
Gone is the understanding that the email came from another human. Gone is “Dear xxx” or “from xxx” but instead have 15 line paragraphs. In some cases appealing to someone’s humanity can take out the tension and lead to resolution. It is tricky from here though.
The abuse gets personal
Someone in our supply chain was clearly having a bad day. We kept pushing all the angles. The effort to resolve the request, which was beyond our control (possibly a naïve expectation as well) meant from a profit perspective, we’d lost on this booking.
But when you are in the business of customer service, it’s a long road, and you do not give up.
When we explained that the resolution wasn’t forthcoming and we were still working on it, the efforts were labelled as “pathetic”.
It’s pretty hard to turn around a win when someone throws this language around. Also hard to keep your staff wanting to help. Bless them, they did.
They don’t want to know
When your staff get distressed you do need to step in and give them the support, whilst maintaining an aspect of “the customer could be right”. It’s gone both ways in the past. We all have bad days.
Upon being called, the customer to spent five minutes telling us he didn’t have time for us and his x many years in the industry blah blah…
The irony being we had a great message ; persistence had paid off and the resolution was above expectation.
There is only a single perspective
Resolution means finding common ground and working to the best alternatives. In the case of a customer yelling at you on the phone, it’s best to put it in writing. If the response is still negative, without acknowledging the efforts or the outcome, they aren’t the customer worth having.
As a footnote….
The situations are distressing in a number of ways. On the individuals who take the phone calls to a business metrics sense that it just chews a stack of time to try and keep someone happy who wants to be miserable. Even cutting a customer loose causes angst to because we don’t want to miss out.
It’s only a few minutes after you move past that that you truly appreciate that this one was worth letting go.