How Firing Bad Clients and Focusing on Your Employees Can Actually Increase Customer Service
The old adage that’s been engrained into society and business that “The Customer is Always Right” is B.S. Yeah, I said it. The customer is not ALWAYS right. Adopting the old mindset for your business can, in fact, kill your business.
There are multiple reasons why this outdated, customer-centric mindset is harmful to your business. The number one reason, in my opinion, is that this mindset puts every customer on a pedestal, and it undervalues your employees. Second, no one wants to work for a terrible boss, a bad customer, within the customer-centric mindset, is, in reality, a terrible boss. Last, a customer-centric mindset limits your ability to provide great customer service for all of your customers.
Old School vs. New School of Thought
The customer-centric business model is old school. The current workforce is a new school. The minority of the workforce in 2022 is between the ages of 18 and 24. Ages 25 to 34 is the next highest percentage of workers, followed by ages 35-54 and lastly, ages 55 and up. The majority of the workforce knows what they want in a job, won’t settle (for long), and are not afraid to move on to a more suitable company.
You might ask, “What does this have to do with customer service?” The answer is everything. Your employees are the lifeblood of your company, they are the ones providing customer service and ensuring your business is successful. If they are dissatisfied, they will not perform to your expectations, they will leave you, and they will provide substandard customer service. This is a recipe for disaster. Instead of catering to your customers’ every desire, start thinking about ways to cater to your employee's wants and needs.
According to a Glassdoor Study, the average US employer spends $4000, and 24 days to hire a new worker. A revolving door of employees costs a significant amount of time, resources, and money. If you have to replace 2-3 employees monthly because “the customer is always right,” you’ll spend about $96,000-$144,000 a year hiring and training new employees.
The great news is, you don’t have to. You simply have to change your mindset about customer service and where your focus, as an employer, needs to be.
Fire Bad Customers & Learn to Spot Them
This topic might be tough to swallow, specifically for new entrepreneurs who are just getting started. There are bad customers for your business. The definition of bad customer changes. They are very real and hurt your company drastically. I’m not talking about the upset customer who had a bad experience. That’s a customer service issue. I’m talking about the customer that everyone dreads coming in, the customer who demands your entire team’s attention, or who is incessantly needy.
As a new entrepreneur, I had a scarcity mindset. I had just quit a job making over 120k, bought a house I could barely afford, had about 2 months of mortgage payments saved up, and moved my dog training business to a new location. I took the leap and I was drowning. I was stressed. I had to make it work; and to me, that meant I had to close every lead that I got. It didn’t matter what the client wanted. I was gonna do it.
I had one client, a young lady, that I knew immediately was going to be difficult but I had to make it work. She wanted much more from me than I typically offered and was what I call a helicopter client. She called 2-3x a day to check in, and wanted to come to see the training facility multiple times before signing up, and her dog had health issues that I was taking on responsibility for. She wanted a payment plan and, her naggin list went on... And I closed it. I did a great job with her dog, and everything went great. Or so I thought.
In hindsight, I should have told her we weren’t the right fit. I spent so much time working on this one client that the other dogs in training suffered. I missed other lead calls. Other customers got subpar service because I poured everything into that one difficult client. To top it all off she defaulted on her payment plan and wrote us a scathing review. In less than 3 weeks I was burned out and lost 5 good customers, along with the bad one. I earned $2500 but lost $10,000 because I sold a bad client. Lesson Learned.
Bad customers eat up your team’s time, make your employees unhappy, and generally speaking, are never going to advocate for your business even if you go above and beyond for them. If you want to provide great customer service, learn to spot bad customers quickly. This skill is especially important if you have a recurring revenue or service model business.
A bad customer is a terrible boss, especially if you have a customer-centric business model.
There are 5 Red Flags I look out for when vetting clients:
- Shows Immediate Distrust
If the customer/lead shows you that they already don’t trust you on an intro call or meeting, it’s probable that you will never earn it and spend all your time trying to.
- Has Extra Special Needs
The majority of your customers will fit into a bell curve with their needs. If you have a customer/lead that is on either end of the outlying edges of that bell curve be wary of that customer. They will take extra time, care, and energy.
- Demands Attention
There is a difference between demanding attention and getting what you pay for. If a customer is demanding you give them extra attention above and beyond what they have paid for they are likely a bad customer for your business.
If you have a customer who is rude to you or your staff, get rid of them. This is a bad customer every time.
- Talks Poorly About Other Companies
If you have a customer/lead who is talking poorly about other companies in or out of your industry, there is a chance they will do the same to you.
When you learn to spot bad customers (and fire them) you are showing your employees that you care about their time, happiness, and stress levels. Advocate for your employees and stand up against bad customers, no one wants to work with a difficult and irrational person. Having this employee-centric mindset ensures that your employees provide great customer service because they know you value them and in turn, they will do a great job for you.
Stop Limiting Your Company’s Customer Service Abilities
Alright if you haven’t caught on yet, focusing on your customers over your employees will limit your company’s ability to provide great customer service for a variety of reasons. This has been reiterated throughout this article so I will make this part short.
If you focus solely on your customers’ needs and do not focus on your employees’ needs, your company cannot provide great customer service.
Your employees will provide excellent customer service when they are well-cared for, have an enriching team culture, opportunities for growth, strong and supportive management, and clear work expectations. Notice how none of these things include anything about the customer. This is all focused on the employees' growth, job satisfaction, and happiness.
How do You Develop an Employee-Centric Business Model?
For me, this is actually pretty simple but there are a lot of small pieces that you will have to figure out for business. I make sure that I empower my employees, and cultivate a great culture that is focused on their success, not my bottom line.
Over the years I have shifted my focus to my staff. I give them the things they ask for, and ensure that they are as happy as can be. It’s been business-altering. Even as the CEO I interact with the majority of my staff daily. I make an effort to show them that I care in a multitude of ways. A small way I do this is simply by eating lunch with them, listening to their stories, and engaging with them. I truly value my staff because, without them, this company wouldn’t exist at the level it does. And neither will yours.
Steps to Create an Employee-Centric Company
- First, Set your core values. You need to know what your company stands for, and the people you want within the company should complement those core values.
- Next, cultivate a culture surrounding the employees. This is something that takes work every day. Culture is different for every organization but it should encompass your core values at a minimum. Beyond that, it should be inclusive and engaging. Everyone should feel welcome and enjoy the culture of the company. If you want to have a culture that mimics a professional football team as a marketing firm, you can. Culture should however complement the people in the company overall.
- Lastly, and most importantly: Pour into your team. Give them as much support, guidance, empowerment, love, understanding, etc. as you can. Show them that you care about them. Business is not just about the bottom line and personally speaking no one should be in business just for the bottom line. Care about your employees and make sure they know it.
In 2023, I challenge you to shift your company to employee-centric. I promise you, if you do, you will see improvement across all aspects of your business. You will create loyal employees, AND have a company that people want to work for. From sales, to customer service, to the retention of staff, all the way down to the bottom line, you will see improvements. You will see your employees and business go from a place of pain to a place of profit$.
Chris Pelle | CEO of Complete Canine Training | LinkedIn