Small Business Tip: Never Be Afraid Of Firing Clients. NEVER. Client is not always (never) right. Learn how to deal with angry bad clients and your business will thank you.
It's very common for service based businesses to get chewed out for not performing up to a certain expectation. As service providers we are more likely to be chewed and screamed at by clients and sometimes even non-clients because we are heavily connected to a client's emotional senses - more so than any product in the history of products. Not even Apple gets so much emotional investment from its tribe of customers.
Related: Seth Godin, a genius marketer has a book called Tribes, in which he talks about leadership being something that can be seen a little every day decisions that seem hard but are better for everyone in the long run. Check it out, it's one of my fav books of all time.
The basic reasoning for this is that we have clients not customers. A customer could be a complete stranger whom we've never met and both their subconscious and conscious mind doesn't care either whether or not they trust you, the owner, or the manufacturer who built it or in most cases even how its sourced. As Consumers we just care if the product has good value, good quality and solves our current need. If the product was to not solve our needs our disappointment most likely goes to the friend or review source that referred us to the product - we typically won't lash out against the product itself and not definitely not the owner of the company.
Barber's Can't Ever Get It Right
The reason why clients have such a heavy emotional investment in a company is as simple as social tradition. A service by tradition has been flexible and personalized where as products don't tend to be - so by default services are personal lifestyle investments that as consumers we make based off years of nurturing that particular image of what we expect.
A service is always associated with the person performing it, because it's a person we feel tricked and taken advantage of.
But just because clients have a particular image of what a 'service' should look like it doesn't make it right or wrong. Your buyers need to adapt to how you want to do business because at the end of the day it's your business and your bottom line is what sustains you and your family and of course grows your business.
If I walk into a new barber shop sit down to wait my turn I'll see how they are interacting with each other, hear the things they say, and either like them or not. If I proceed with my haircut and I'm happy with it, but I don't like them as 'people' based on my experience so far I won't be too happy if I get charged $25 for a cut. BUT if I like what they say, how they talk to each other, joke around with clients, have a nice overall personality and their work is at least average I'll be ok with it because of the frame I have built in my head just recently. That is my worldview.
Often times, the reason why a client might complain about your pricing for example is for 2 reasons:
1. As owner/barber, you didn't do a good job at framing that image of you and your service well enough to charge what YOU THINK you are worth.
2. Your new, possibly 1 time customer, walked in with a strong image just really glued in there about what a barber should be like, for example fast and cheap... And you didn't do a good enough job reframing that worldview.
Focus on Your Story Telling To Avoid Dealing With Angry Customers
As Seth Godin puts it, a brand is all about story telling and when you tell a story that reflects your personality your service or company will be paired to that personality which means that you will most likely attract people with shared values. When people share values they are less likely to argue and in business more likely to be a lot easily satisfied with a particular experience or relationship.
Fire Your Clients
Never, ever, ever be afraid to fire a client. It sucks to have to tell someone you don't want to service them any more, but in recurring monthly type services this is way too important! You must do it, the business needs you to be tough. It may be tempting to take any client, especially if you're just starting out and you need every dime you can get but hard to please clients will drain your time and your resources.
If pricing is an issue, don't let low prices affect your ability to deliver a higher value. You want to deliver the highest value possible at a reasonable price. Raise your prices, elevate your standard of what a good experience is and deliver on that to justify your rates.
When someone buys a product from you based off your marketing to them and you fail to deliver on that brand promise - you are wrong and the customer is right and they have the right to be disappointed and even angry. But having clients doesn't work like that. Sometimes a client will make you a better business owner so learn to listen and adjust as needed.
Customers may be right, but clients are not always right.
In this article:
Related Article: 6 Easy Tricks To Make People Like You
Are you a small business owner needing to understand and leverage Digital Marketing better? Subscribe to our 30 days of Small Marketing Wins part of our Small Business Series