Book On My Virtual Nightstand: Dealing with Difficult Customers

MANTRA: we wouldn’t exist without our customers! They are ALWAYS RIGHT! Right??!?

We all need the “human touch,” but sometimes our customers seem INSATIABLE. When do we stop bending over backwards for them? Are we setting false expectations with them … a.k.a. setting our companies up for failure?

The book “Dealing with Difficult Customers” by Noah Fleming and Shawn Veltman is on my virtual nightstand this month. I say “virtual nightstand” because I have littles, whom I typically blame for my inability to get through my reading list … but it’s really not their fault. Thank you Audible for putting business books like this one on auto-pilot for me. (The truth: I would never choose to read a business book over some juicy fiction by Josh Bazell or binge-watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. So thank goodness for audio books!)

THE PROBLEM: Differentiating between a totally crazy customer with ridiculous requests who is trying to take advantage, get something for free or doesn’t understand the value of our time (referred to in this book as “Hungry Hippos” & “Problem Children”) … and a customer with a very valid concern who, if I solve it, will become my company’s biggest fan … and actually IMPROVE MY BUSINESS to boot! (Always thank these people for bringing the concern to our attention!)

I can recommend this one, chock full of great reminders, if you’re in sales, customer service, running your own company or side-hustle.

Bottom line: Ignore a “problem customer” … and you could be the next viral sensation for all the wrong reasons.

Give in to every demand … and you will be consumed with the often petty complaints of your worst customers and wind up pandering & bending over backwards for them … at the expense of others lining up to do business with you.

Anyone who’s been even marginally successful as a small business owner knows how easy it is to work yourself into the ground. At first, being an entrepreneur is fun. You get your first few clients and are so excited they are paying you for your work. You’re at their beck and call. Their wish is your command. You’re ecstatic they’ve freed you up to do what you love, without a boss!

But if you are even marginally successful, your clients become even worse than any boss you’ve ever had. You may have left your old job because you thought … no you knew … you could do your craft better than anyone else. So you hustle your butt off in those initial days, months, even years. You end up doing your craft, and doing a lot of it. But at a certain point you realize that as a business owner, doing your craft isn’t enough. You now also have to do all of these additional tasks like managing employees, keeping books, accounting and marketing to successfully run your business. You also begin to realize that there’s more to life than doing your craft … but taking vacation days, sick days or even a day off is no longer an option. This is where creating boundaries, repeatable processes and setting realistic expectations can literally make or break your business.

How do you create healthy boundaries with your customers? I want to know! Post in the comments below … 👇🏼

(Cute kid reading photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels)