Dealing with Unfair Customers

Companies agree that customers are the line-blood of their existence and to that end most adopt the maxim that ‘customers are always right’ as the basis to deliver high quality customer service. Some customers seem grateful and work with the company to ensure success for their endeavours and for the company. However, on closer investigation it becomes clear as to not only how wrong some customers can be they are also unabashedly unfair and excessive in their behaviour. Unfair customers can easily become a nuisance as they try to exploit every situation using the adage of being always right. They demand unjustified favours and benefits, compensation that results in negatively impacting the companies and their staff and also other customers in the long haul. Unfair customers must be weeded out and dealing with them effectively can actually help companies in raising their customer service standards substantially and providing great service to customers who deserve it.

By this premise then, the motto ‘customers are always right’ therefore is being challenged so as not to let unfair customers demand whatever they fancy. When unfair customers play with the system, it is also much harder for employees to manage them, leading to employee discomfort and attrition. Such customers are abusive and abrasive and hence if a company is trying to keep up with them, they would get special treatment and offers as compared to the ‘nicer’ customers. This is just so wrong – how can you keep great customers or expect them to provide repeat business if this unfairness persists? Worse still these unfair customers get what they want quickly enough despite screaming, abusing and being unjust in their behaviour. The harsh truth is that every company is bound to have some customers like this – for whatever reason. Someone in your company messed up or did something to lead the customer to the edge – taking care of your customer is priority however, there is no reason to tolerate nasty customers.

When dealing with unfair customers, remember that just because they are being vicious and negative, does not mean that your company needs to be the same way. It’s easy to get caught up in this – just focus on the problem and not the behaviour. Keep in mind that the problem is what is causing the confusion – the customer is not the problem. Most companies really want to attend to the customer and do whatever they can to make sure that the problem is resolved and do their best to save the relationship. Most times unfair customers behave so since they probably feel that this behaviour is the only route and method to get service. Your company and its representatives must be able to show these customers that there are other choices and routes that will better resolve the issue. It must be conveyed that the past cannot be changed but you would do whatever reasonably possible to change the present and endeavour that such problems do not occur in the future. Present them with solutions that can solve their current problems first. Ask them what they feel would be the best solution.

While being upset and irate, customers are only able to focus on the issue. Their vision is limited and all they can see is the problem they are facing or think they are facing. Communicate to these customers that you are trying to resolve the problem as best and as quickly as is reasonably possible. Never present them with your limitations as this would only irritate them more – instead get your position to one of control by offering some solutions that would at least begin the process of negotiation. Take the unfair customers as challenges – if you are able to appease them and retain their business profitably, then you can manage anything! Make the most of these opportunities to make your reputation soar and your business flourish with each passing day.

No problem can be resolved without both sides cooperating and it would be in your best interest to first get the customer to calm down and be ready to listen to what you have to offer. For you too, it would be easier to determine whether the customer is being irrational for good reason or is just your typical unfair customer out to make this difficult and yet reap benefits. Unfair customers will often cross the line and turn in to tormentors making transactions and interactions awful. Step in to stop this before your customer steps on you. Unfair customers can be, I dare say, termed as bullies who can detect fear and apprehension and then feed on them. Their tell-tale signs are dishonesty, ill-mannered, insulting, bad payers and even abusive. They are almost like scam artistes and will try to mirror good customers by expecting high quality service – right here right NOW. Highly profitable and great customers have the right to demand this kind of service – but unfair customers clearly do not. Here is where the difference is highlighted – good customers are always right and your company must do whatever it takes to serve them and unfair customers are always wrong and there is no reason to bend backwards to serve these troublemakers.

If you find your company is losing business despite all the efforts, it is probably because the number of unfair customers and bullies has risen. It may not be possible to resolve these issues on your own, and it would become imperative to hire a professional firm to help weed these out. It would save you a lot of trouble and cost in the long run. There is sometimes a very fine line to start with that distinguishes healthy business associates from unfair ones. But with time this disparity becomes clearer although it may have gone out of hand by then. Good customers are appreciative even when they have feedback. Unfair customers would only have belittling feedback, purposely waste time, demand more options, continually find fault with whatever you offer and also blame you for indecisiveness and time lapses. After blaming you for ‘everything that has gone wrong’ they will calculate their ‘losses’ and demand that you make up for it through discounts and compensation.

There is still some hope – unfair customers causing losses and having major fiscal implications are making companies realize that in the fierce market conditions having them around is not sustainable. They are realizing that doing away with unfair customers is better and they should rather queue up potential customers and be more careful while selecting. The idea is to prevent any ugly and unfair customers getting on to their list of customers to start with. It would be prudent for companies to look at the reasons that made them err with customer decisions:

– Probably deficient or complete lack of policies, guidelines and transaction strategies prevented them from delving in to what could go wrong
– Poor choice of customers i.e. not checking the history of customers, reputation in the market and such other customer details
– Badly conduct negotiations that did not consider unfairness from customers
– Poor and ill-trained frontline staff who were unable to rein in or nip in the bud ‘bad behaviour’ from customers
– No legal and business strategies in place to safeguard the company’s interest

The fact is that if your company is sloppy, unorganized and in confusion it will show amply in your selection process and in your transactions. A company that is suffering fiscally will ‘recruit’ any and every customer and will ultimately land up with unfair and bullying customers. The fact is even one ‘bad egg’ will spoil others as well and will make the culture of unfair customers permeate through all. Cash flows, internal strength, employee satisfaction and all the good things that make up a company get at risk. Companies that don’t stand up for their right will be torn down and shoved in to oblivion. Companies that do awake to the lurking danger and put up a united front will be able to do away with the unfair customers and their bullying regime and get their cash registers ringing again.

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