Why You Should Fire 1% of Your Customers

One of the best things you can do for your business is fire your problem customers.

you're fired

A small amount – usually about 1% – of your customers will fall into the category of the “worst”. Although it may seem insignificant, these customers can cost you and your team a lot of energy.

Be Proactive

Instead of being passive, I definitely recommend actively removing them from your business. Yes, fire them.

You don’t have to do it in a tough way. Taking small actions such as putting them on a black list so that don’t receive your promotional material, or unsubscribing them from your mailing list completely, are ways of gently disconnecting.

Sometimes, however, you might find it necessary to be more direct.

Say Farewell

Last year I finally decided it was time to do something about a customer who had been complaining for three years. He had purchased a product of mine in 2011 and since then, had never stopped complaining. Although he had received top-notch customer support and more attention than most of my customers, he was still unhappy.

His was the case of a person who was disappointed in life, therefore, the only way he knew to communicate was to express disappointment.

Those types of customers can drain you and your business because no matter what, they will never be satisfied.

So, last year I sent him an email and basically gave him a choice:

I will refund your money and we can end our relationship, or you can stop complaining.

Of course, he took the money.

I explained to him that I knew regardless of any thing we did, he would never be happy. I refunded his 3,000 euros, which was probably his goal the entire time anyway.

Firing that one problem customer had a large and positive impact on our business and our work community.

Delete the Bad Stuff

I think it was Jack Welch who said every year he fires the top 10% of his worst performing employees. I don’t go to that extreme, but it does make you think about how success could depend on deleting things in your business or life that are not working.

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Remove these people and their negative impact from your life so that you no longer have to think about them. Get them off your radar and out of your system.

Read more about Letting Go of things in your life that aren’t working. 

Have you had an experience with firing a problem customer?  I’d love to hear your comments or send me a Tweet @EelcoDeBoer


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  • 27 July 2015
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