During this time of year, our romantic relationships are top of mind. But what about that someone special in our business lives – our customers?
We’ve recently come across this topic on Intuit QuickBooks and had a light bulb moment – this is under-addressed in our industry, so we decided to write about it.
At some point or another, we’ve all had to deal with a difficult client – be it demands, discounts or incentives. While you want to help them to the best of your ability, sometimes it goes against company procedures or it’s just not feasible. Having to say “no” is one of the most unpleasant and overlooked parts of clinic management workflow.
Be sure the decision to say no is justified, either because the request is not available or possible, or fulfilling that demand could negatively impact your business. Ask clarifying questions to ensure that you understand everything. Then, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Seek a possible compromise, ask a clinic manager for guidance and reverse the roles. If there is still no solution, then saying no may be your only option.
Always be polite, courteous and empathetic – this will make the world of difference for all parties. Be clear with your client about why you must say no, explain your limits, discuss the steps you’ve taken, and be sure they understand why you’re giving them this answer.
Sadly, even though you’ve exhausted all efforts to satisfy your clients, you sometimes still have to make the difficult decision of letting a client go. In this article, we’ve highlighted the four reasons to say goodbye to a customer – offering tools and hints on how and when to cut them loose.
1. They’re Pests
Staying in contact with your client during the course of treatment is important to ensure they are progressing and receiving the maximum therapeutic benefit of treatment. Some clients, however, go overboard on communication. If your client is calling every hour, peppering you with questions that could be answered by reviewing your website or previous correspondence, and is generally being a pest, they’re probably more trouble than they are worth.
2. They’re Too Hard to Reach
A patient who never answers the phone or responds to emails is probably not a good client. It is tough to build a client relationship with someone you never talk to. It also creates a great administrative burden when trying to collect necessary documents and payment. The time and resources spent on trying to get a hold of this person could be better spent on profit-generating activities. This lack of communication increases the chances of a disconnect between the customer’s expectations and the end result, which can lead to additional issues with the client.
3. They’re Abusive to You or Your Staff
Some clients are more pleasant than others. If you know how to build customer relationships, it’s possible to lessen the demands of clients. However, a customer that is verbally abusive or who constantly berates you or your staff is not worth the time or trouble.
Continuing a relationship with this person can significantly have a negative impact on your staff and their job performance. If clients publicly display bad behavior, this could lead other customers to avoid your practice as well.
4. They’re Cheap
Everyone wants the best deal. Consequently, you can’t blame a customer for trying to bargain on prices here and there. However, unreasonable or outright impossible requests, accompanied by an expectation of getting extra products and services, or with a threat to badmouth your business publicly, are signs that the customer does not respect your work. Even when you decide your small business is likely better off without a difficult client’s patronage, it’s still important to deal with the situation professionally. This may even turn things around, changing the customer’s attitude to successfully keep their business. Here are some tips for dealing with difficult customers:
- Stay calm and avoid getting caught up in the difficult clients anger. Do your best to diffuse the situation by responding in a polite tone.
- Express understanding and empathy with a simple statement that acknowledges the client’s dissatisfaction.
- Make an effort to explain your refusal in a way that makes a positive statement about your business.
- Offer an alternate solution, something that you can do that may satisfy them.
- Apologize, even if you haven’t done anything wrong, expressing your regret that you are unable to meet their request.
And by the way, we couldn’t let this chance pass without thanking you for being such a great customer!