Your Stress-Free Guide to Getting Rid of Toxic Customers

Earlier this week we posted an article describing how to tell if it’s time to fire a bad client. If you’ve read that post and decided it’s time to cut the cord with one or more of your customers, you may now be wondering how on earth to do that. This article will show you how to sever ties with a bad customer in a professional but clear way.



Be Sure You Really Can Dump Them



Before you have “the talk” with a bad customer, make absolutely certain that you’re not violating any contract or agreement you may have signed. Review all legal documents carefully to ensure you’re in the clear and that you can’t be sued for breach of contract. If the agreement calls for a notice period (say, 30 days), make sure you abide by that to reduce the risk of legal blowback.



Gather Evidence



Once you’ve made sure that you can break up with your customer, it’s wise to gather some information about their specific transgressions. While you’re not going to charge into the conversation with an accusatory tone, having proof that the customer hasn’t held up their end of the bargain can help you steel your nerves and feel more confident. Plus, if the customer tries to push back, you’ll have evidence for your position rather than just giving in and keeping them as a client.



Be Polite but Firm



When it comes time to break the news to your client, be unfailingly polite and respectful, even if your customer is not. Keep your tone reasonable and refrain from accusing your customer of willful misconduct, even as you’re explaining the reasons why you’re terminating the relationship. Chances are your customer is more disorganized or entitled than they are malevolent – they may be shocked to hear what you have to say because everyone else they’ve worked with has always rolled over for them!



That brings us to our next point – whatever you do, don’t let them change your mind. Even if they appear very contrite and promise to change their ways, stand your ground. This is where all the evidence you gathered earlier comes in handy. You were sure then that this customer had to go – be sure now. Whether they choose to plead, shout, cajole, or berate, hold on to what you know is best for your business.



Be the Bigger Person



While it’s necessary in some truly toxic and abusive situations to cut ties with your customer immediately and completely, in others it’s best to develop a timeline for your departure. Of course, if your contract mandates that you give a certain notice period you should abide by that, but even if it doesn’t there’s a lot to be said for being the professional adult in the situation. Set a firm date by which you will be completely divorced from your customer and spend your time up till that date getting things in order as much as possible for them. That doesn’t mean spending innumerable hours frantically trying to finish the project but rather tying up loose ends and bringing things to a convenient stopping point. If you’ve taken any money up front for work that won’t be completed, refund the cash. Finally, draw up a quick document noting what has been done, what still needs to be completed, and any information the customer might need to move forward without you. This might seem like bending over backward for someone who has wronged you, and it is. However, you’ll come out smelling like roses if you do this, even if the cranky client tries to slander you on Yelp or other review sites.



All Sales are About Relationships



Even if you have a business where customers come into the store, purchase an item, and leave again, resist the urge to think of that sale as a transactional experience. You’re always building relationships with customers, even if they’re just passing through and will never be in your town again. Building a relationship with them increases the chance they’ll tell someone else about you and the chance they’ll return if they ever happen to be in the neighborhood. This goes both ways, however. If you have a customer who is disrespecting your employees, your business, or you, don’t hesitate to let them go.



At 360 Payments, we see ourselves as true partners in your business. We build relationships, because we don’t want you to think of us as just another vendor you have to pay ever month. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website. We’d love to show you how we’re building a better credit card processor.



PS – Chargeback rules are changing! Here’s why that’s great news for your business.



PPS – PCI compliance can be confusing. Here’s your guide to the basics.

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