Field service businesses live to make their customers happy. If your customers aren’t satisfied, they aren’t going to renew their contact when the time rolls around, they aren’t going to recommend you to their colleagues, and they certainly aren’t going to expand their buying. Sometimes, though, customers are more than just unhappy, they’re bad customers.
Bad customers aren’t the ones calling you to fix something you did wrong and they’re not the ones with high expectations. Those are customers you can win over with great service — they have a clear idea of success, but the bar is high.
Bad customers are the ones that are unreasonable, mean and threatening, or consistently delinquent. These are the customers taking time and energy away from your business and degrading the quality of service you can give to your other clients.
Here are three signs you might need to break it off with a customer.
The go take a leap customer
It’s one thing to be unhappy with the service you receive — it’s another to take it out on the people providing the service. There is no reason that anyone should be verbally abusive to your staff or to you. While tempers can flare when things go really wrong, those are one-off occurrences. Customers who consistently belittle you aren’t worth holding on to.
Your abusive customer isn’t satisfied, which means they aren’t going to be a good financial investment anyways. If they push someone’s buttons too many times, you could even lose a staff member, costing you an arm and a leg to replace.
Mean customers are also bad for overall morale. Techs will start to dread being called out to the customer site, or even near it for fear of having to deal with a last minute request. Abusive customers are the easiest to spot and drop, as you likely don’t have a good relationship with them to start with.
The hold it over your head customer
Some people make difficult requests. Can you get out here tomorrow? Can we finish this up by the end of the month? I’ve got a lower bid, can you drop yours? Those are par for the course in the field service industry.
Customers who hold things over your head like some sort of Acme anvil are the ones who have to go. These people can look you in the eye and threaten to give you bad reviews or to tell their friends how bad you are. The untold secret is that they’re already doing it. No one who treats your business like that is going to be singing your praises.
All these threats do is put you in a position where you feel obligated to keep stringing a horrible client along. You’re probably already losing money on them, and while reviews last a lifetime online, one bad apple isn’t going to spoil your Yelp pie.
These are the next easiest folks to get rid of. It can be difficult if it’s a larger client or if the threats are causing you and your staff stress, but these are folks who have to go.
The let me get that to you next week customer
Let’s not pull any punches — these can be hard customers to get rid of. Clients who don’t pay on time are usually really nice and often on the verge of increasing the amount of money they’re going to spend with you. This is where you have to remember customers are effectively partners in your business.
When a customer signs a contract with you, they’re entering into mutual agreement. You provide customer service on time and they provide payment. If there’s a breach on either side, the other suffers. Clients that damage your cash flow haven’t just broken the agreement, they’ve jeopardized your business.
It can be hard to watch a struggling business pay its bills, but when those bills are owed to your business, you have to make a move. If you don’t, you’ll be the one saying, “Let me get that to you next week.”
Once you’ve decided to let them go, you have to break the news. Maybe you’re good at firing people, but I never was. Keep it professional, focus on your business, and give them a recommendation for another provider, if you think they deserve it.
At the end of the day, it’s your business, and you can’t let someone else dictate whether or not you thrive or merely survive.
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