5 Shades Of Customer Crazy: How To Turn Bad Customer Experiences Into Good Ones

The movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has become “Universal Pictures’ highest-grossing R-rated international release with $338.4 million,” according to Variety magazine. In the film the tormented, billionaire Christian...

  1. “You’re a know it all.”

    A successful CEO recently shared a recap of her sales pitch meeting that went well, but not without a side of belittlement. Following the pitch, the customer said to her, “You’re a know it all.”

    This may not offend you, but think back to an offensive customer comment. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of doing business. You are in the business of people. Even though your customer may lack people skills, you aren’t afforded that same luxury.

    Forbes writer Jacquelyn Smith explains: “People skills are, in short, the various attributes and competencies that allow one to play well with others.” One customer will love your approach and another will acknowledge your talent and simultaneously belittle what you have built. They’ll shake with their right hand, and hold a rock in their left.

    The question is this: Is your skin thick enough for business? I ask because your success depends on it. Forbes contributor David Williams shares observations on how one entrepreneur “takes the hits” in stride: “he takes a lot of ‘hits’ yet judgments slide off him like beads of water off a polished car as he cranks out his work with a passion. His tough skin has helped him develop an incredible heart that is open to learning from all his experiences.” Let it all make you better, not bitter.

  2. Client: “Oh, but I’m not going to pay you! But you’ll get a lot of publicity.”

    Unless you own a hobby (Note: The IRS expects that if you start a business, you intend to make money at it. If you don’t, your business is likely to be a hobby. Source: Turbo Tax) or have a viable reason to do free work—walk away.

    A monetary exchange is a principal indicator that a buyer values the sellers work. As Warren Buffett says, “writing a check separates a commitment from a conversation.” Tweet This! At a base level there should be an equitable value exchange. Whether that value is monetarily based is up to you.

    New entrepreneurs often ask themselves, “Should I work for free?” Usually it’s a no, but occasionally it’s a yes. Actually, there are times when doing a thing for free could be… well, profitable. The broader lesson is simple: value your work. To paraphrase an old adage: “If you put a small value on [your work], rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”

  3. Client: “Just because we’ve approved something doesn’t mean we’ve read it. From now on, you need to double-check everything we approve…”

    Sometimes in business, a customer’s yes doesn’t really mean “yes”. (Huh?) Yet, to preclude the insanity it’s important to create fail-safes for agreements, processes and collaboration.

    Misunderstandings, or pure exploitation, can put your client relationship, or business, at risk. If you have quality assurance (QA) measures built into a service, make it known. Clearly outline the scope of work (SOW) from the beginning, who is responsible at each stage, in writing. At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to ensure everyone is on the same page.

And remember, just because “Mr. Grey will see you now,” doesn’t mean you need to take that meeting.


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