Last night we found a problem with my dog’s leg and had to get him to the vet first thing today. So I’m sitting in the waiting room at my vet. As I sit there with my dog Max by my side the only other person in the room is the girl sitting behind the desk chatting on the phone with what sounds like a disgruntled customer. All the while I’m thinking to myself what could this customer be so unhappy about, this is a vet they are here to help your animals. She then hung up the phone and began talking to another animal hospital worker that walked into the room. “It was Mrs. Smith, you know that crazy lady that calls every other day”. Then they both chuckled.
At this point I’m still thinking to myself, why is a customer calling a vet every day and what could she be calling about?
She then returned to her desk and I asked, “Do you have some pain-in-the-butt customers?” She looked at me and laughed, “Uh, yeah! But just a handful, about 10% of our customer base.” I then thought to myself, wow we must all have them. I started thinking about all the businesses I use in my life and how many times I have come across problem customers in those businesses. Just last month, a guy walked in the Home Depot I was at with 4 dried up dead plants. I thought to myself, how in the world could anyone bring back a dead plant and expect to get money back? After all, it’s a $4.00 plant, what’s the point? Take the loss, you didn’t water them it’s your fault. I watched him approach the front of the line and then start complaining. “These plants died, I want my money back!’ Then the girl behind the counter smiled and said, “No problem.” Then she processed the refund and handed him his money. He grumbled, looked at her and said “I’ll never buy plants here again!” and walked out.
I was next in line and the first thing I asked her was “Why did you give him his money back, he clearly didn’t water the plants”. She looked at me smiled and said, “It’s our policy, I know he never watered them.” She then added, “Tt’s a very small percentage of people that take advantage of our 1-year guarantee on plants”. I thought to myself, hmmm it must be 10%.
Be prepared for this, because to tell you the truth I was not. I took it personally every time a customer complained or didn’t get great results. They scream and beat you up over the littlest of things and it makes you feel horrible, you want to go home, curl up and sleep. You think it’s the end of your business and that everyone is unhappy and you can’t figure out what you are doing wrong. But the reality is, it’s just 10%. 10% of your customer base will be customers you hate. Every business experiences them and it’s basically unavoidable. Whether your service is $50 or $5000 you will always have the 10% that are miserable.
As you grow your 7 figure agency they will come and go. Your goal will always be to minimize the bad ones to the best of your abilities. You must learn to minimize the bad seeds. As your business grows and you talk to more and more customers you’ll start to know the telltale signs of the 10% so you can try and filter them out. Understand you will never eliminate them.
So what happens when a bad seed finds its way into your kingdom? First thing you have to do is treat them with professionalism. Keeping in mind you may not be the best person for this job. I know I’m not, we have account managers in place to handle our clients. They have a certain skill set that enables them to know how to handle a bad customer and come out unscathed. The worst thing for you to do is to fight fire with fire. Instead, you have to fight fire with kindness. You can get rid of them by simply telling them you are no longer going to be doing business with them. Now in our business, the Internet Marketing industry, you’re getting paid on a monthly basis. Understand if you want to rid yourself of this customer you may have to give some or all of their money back to break free without any negative comments online. Trust me when I say that you may lose a little money on the front end here but it’s well worth it later. I learned that from my partner Josh, I still hate it and fight it but in the end I know it’s right.
Here is a sample of a way that conversation could go:
“Mr. Jones, I understand your frustration and want to help you out. We may not be the best company for you at this time. I really want to end this on a positive note for you. What I’m going to do is give you all the work we did, your website, the marketing, and I’ll even put together all your user names and passwords in a nice document so you have them down the road. I also want to refund your last two months of service. (or however many months you want to refund them, you could refund everything they paid you, but if they have been with you for a long period of time, say more than 3 months, I would just refund one or two months). Keep in mind I’ll help out as much as I can to get your website transitioned over to your new company when you choose them.”
With that how much negative feedback could they give you? We have never had a problem when we did it this way. In fact, we have had clients that have left us like this and speak well of us. To this day we have a client that was really tough and we had to end it. We still see this customer at a trade show we attend several times a year. We say hello and have a little chit chat and all is good.
Just be prepared for that 10% and don’t let it frustrate you. Keep in mind that the upside to that 10% is the 90% that are happy, love you and even go out of their way to help you get more customers.
Building a 7 figure agency is hard but it’s a lot of little things working together that will get you there. Always remain positive and go after the right customer. The one you want to work with, the 90%ers.
[Tweet “Here’s To The Crazy Ones…The 10% Of Clients You Will Hate”]