When Customers or Clients Behave Badly

By John Dunnery

Every business wishes to keep its customers or clients happy. After all, they provide the revenue that allows the company to stay afloat. However, there are certain kinds of customers or clients who hurt rather than help the business’s bottom line. It’s important for every business to identify these parties and to take action to limit the financial damage they cause.

Here are six profiles of customers or clients behaving badly.

1. The client who makes a request that is unethical and/or illegal.

One example is the client who requests a receipt showing an amount that is different from the actual amount for the transaction. Another example is the client who wants the transaction to be “under the table.”

Obviously, you must refuse to participate in such transactions. The viability and longevity of your company depend upon your commitment to act with integrity and according to the law at all times.

2. The customer who is abusive.

If a customer abuses you or your staff verbally or physically, it is necessary to take action to terminate the relationship. And, of course, the police should be called if the abuse crosses the line into criminality.

3. The client who makes unreasonable demands.

This can occur, for example, in a business-to-business supplier arrangement.

If a client responds to a free delivery offer by placing regular small orders instead of one large order, in order to reduce his own inventory costs, the client is taking unreasonable advantage of your offer.

At a certain point, it may be appropriate to withdraw the free delivery option for this client.

4. The customer who complains on social media.

In the modern era, customers often express concerns on social media about products or services.

This is a difficult scenario for businesses to navigate, as they must keep customer confidentiality concerns in mind.

As a first step, it is appropriate to respond on the social media platform, without overreacting or attacking the customer.

As a second step, if the customer consents, the discussion can be shifted from the social media platform to a private conversation between you and the customer.

5. The client whose actions result in costs that are in excess of revenue.

This may occur in a business-to-business arrangement, where – for example – the client makes excessive use of support services in relation to software.

In this instance, the client may be using your business as a trainer instead of instituting training for its own staff.

At a certain point, after appropriate cautions and warnings, it may be desirable to terminate the software supply arrangement.

6. The customer who returns a large proportion of purchases.

There are customers who abuse retail return policies. Some buy a product – such as an item of clothing or an electronic device – with the intention of using it temporarily and then bringing it back for a refund.

Others purchase multiple similar items with the intention of trying them out and then returning all but one. Such customer conduct has a negative effect on inventory and warehousing arrangements.

Where such abuse continues, it is appropriate to first issue warnings and then to begin refusing refunds.

By identifying problem customers or clients, businesses begin the process of formulating a response to these individuals.

It is in the best interests of both your bottom line and your staff’s morale to develop policies and procedures to deal with such customers and clients.

Join the discussion...