In a perfect world, everyone would agree with each other, and always be happy. But this isn't a perfect world and disagreements with customers can leave them dissatisfied. Let's face it, sometimes clients can be down right difficult.
So how do you deal with a difficult customer? The first step is to try to resolve whatever the problem is. If you fulfilled the job based on the proposal specifications, and they insist on asking for more than was agreed on in the contract, you know this customer is trying to take advantage of you. Don't fall for it! Some customers will hold payment because they want you to do more. If you have completed the work that you were contracted for and you have done your best to satisfy the customer's concerns, and there's still no way to make them happy, this is a "problem customer."
You can avoid such nightmare situations by pre-qualifying customers. Customers pre-qualify businesses by getting estimates and checking references. Customers don't just choose the vendor with the lowest price. They also evaluate the appearance and personality of the company representative, how knowledgeable that person is and even the condition of her car.
Likewise, before you do business with a customer, you want to be sure you can accommodate his request. Ask lots of questions to make sure you understand exactly what he is asking for and that the potential client understands what your business does. Is the prospect asking for a service your business doesn't provide? Failing to take this step could lead to costly disagreements and waisting yours and the customer's time.
Consider it a red flag if the potential client seems demanding even before you close the deal; which means you have to pay attention to how demanding they are up front. If you have already let them know what your products and rates are, and they try to nickel and dime you on every point in the proposal, its time to put on the brakes. I like to call this the "customonster;" rude and demanding from the start and probably not a good fit for you or your business.
Say you see the red flags and decide to work with a prospect anyway. In this situation its best to set a price that will make dealing with the customonster worth it for you. Otherwise you can simply tell the customer that you are sorry, but you will not be able to do this job for them.
Educate and communicate with customers from the start, and listen to your gut during the early stage of the customer relationship. Don't be afraid to pick and choose your customers, and fire them when their antics begin to hurt your business. Taking these steps will help your business grow, run smoothly and ensure that your customers satisfied with your services.
Ashley Bodi is the co-founder of BusinessBeware.Biz a website that helps business owners warn each other about customers who have become a problem and collect from those who are slow to pay.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Our organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.