“Prevent churn at all costs!” We chant this ad nauseum. Then, despite your best efforts, along comes a customer that makes life miserable. You’re exhausted. You’ve evaluated your personnel, product, and support structure. You’ve followed procedure to the letter.
Breaking up is hard to do, but when it’s clear that it’s not you, it’s them, then sometimes it’s best to move on. Here are some signs that it’s time to let a customer go:
The customer is abusive
If this is not already a cardinal rule for your customer support department, make it one. Your staff deserve to be treated with respect- even when customers are frustrated. You have worked hard to hire courteous, competent, professional support staff. It’s your job to protect them.
When a customer conversation turns abusive, immediately refer the conversation to a supervisor to refund (if necessary) and terminate the relationship. There are no benefits to be had by retaining abusive customers. Don’t tolerate it. Move on.
The customer can’t be pleased
This one’s tricky. You are supposed to help the customer, right? But sometimes a support unicorn comes along that is just never satisfied. You field daily complaints, questions, and requests like: “The product won’t do X,” “I need another discount,” “You need to walk me through this procedure (for the 5th time this week) without any slowing down. These customers rarely get easier to deal with; many of them become more demanding.
For many support teams, it’s not sustainable to spend an hour a day on one customer. More importantly, when these customers’ demands increase beyond a reasonable level, it impacts your support team. Recognize when a customer becomes too big of a burden to carry, and carry on without them.
The customer is a legal or social media threat
Legal threats are easy to understand, and these should be taken seriously and discussed with a lawyer. But social media? How bad can it be? In the age of bad Yelp reviews, and Facebook and Twitter debacles, the customer can wield a surprising amount of power to publicly shame. Managing social media outbursts is a time consuming, and carefully calculated process.
We’ve all seen social media shaming or negative reviews snowball. In order to protect yourself (at the risk of losing a customer) your proactive social media strategy may mean terminating a customer relationship by giving a refund, an apology, and parting ways. Remember, it is rare that a social media threat will require termination, but a good customer support agent can pick out the “types” that will cause headaches, damage your reputation, and affect revenue. You’ll know it when you see it.
Ideally, your customer support software has live chat and searchable FAQs, which can mitigate your vulnerability to the wrath of unhappy customers. Proactive support tools work to please the customer that can’t be pleased and prevent hot tempers from flaring thanks to abundant, easily accessible information. With HappyFox, simple live inquiries or easily searchable FAQs help prevent small complaints from spiraling out of control. Plus, a simple ticketing system prevents lost or forgotten customer requests, which is a major source of customer dissatisfaction.
Letting a customer go should be the last resort for any business. And there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for handling difficult people. But you can protect yourself.
So be proactive and set high standards. Your customers won’t want to go anywhere.