Imagine that your business is a restaurant. Although your business may not be an eatery in real life, just pretend for a moment for the sake of this example—
You are a new restaurant in town and hope to make connections with your new customers and guests so that they will come back again and again. Throughout your opening night, you hear two kinds of responses: one being “We love it here! We will be sure to come back here every Friday night!” This is an example of a good customer. On the other end of the spectrum we have the bad customer who exclaims that “this food is bland and the waiter is nowhere to be seen! I am never coming back and I will tell all my friends to avoid this place. I want to see a manager, and I am not paying for this.”
In this scenario, who are you to cater to? The instantly devoted fan (good customer), or the ornery guest who is unhappy with everything and is unwilling to waiver in their opinion (bad customer)? Contrary to what your instinct may be telling you, the best option for you as the manager is to cater to the good customer.
Spending too much time on bad customers will take precious attention away from the good customers, who will, with enough neglect, become bad customers. The key to customer relations and fiscal bottom-line success is to keep your attention on long term success rather than short term.
What Makes a Bad Customer?
The people who are taking up all of your time and attention due their unwillingness to comply or be reasonable in dealing with you as the business owner is what we call a “bad customer”. We call them that because they often are guests that will not return to your business, but in the time that they are inside your business, they take up all of your attention and energy and even have the capability of ruining the experiences of already “good” customers.
A bad customer can be like a virus that sours everything they come into contact with. Keep their situations contained and do not let yourself get bogged down by their attention grabbing. Beware getting too invested in bad customers.
What Makes a Good Customer?
A patron or service seeker who knows exactly what you can offer them and plans on making use of your provisions is a “good customer”. They already love your company or are not too far from loving it. This particular kind of customer is the hope and prayer of every business owners: they become “Regulars”.
When it comes to options, chances are that there are plenty of competitors out there all offering the same goods and services as you. The difference between those competitors and you is that this particular customer, the good customer, has given you their loyalty. For whatever reason, they trust your company and brand, and the important thing above all else is that you as the business runner do not lose that loyalty.
How to Avoid the Pitfalls that come with a Bad Customer
A bad customer can be dangerous to your business because they can damper the experience of a loyal customer, and enough exposure to bad customers can actually change the loyal customers mind on your brand. Due to this, it is important that you reinforce the good customer’s feelings of loyalty. Make loyalty a two way street rather than just a one way. Reward your customer for being so loyal by offering incentives such as discounts, extras and freebies. Even if you are not in a position to give out lower prices or gifts, just going that extra mile to make them feel appreciated with a personal conversation is all it takes.
Treasure your good customers because they are your lifeblood. One regular becomes two, and then four, and then before you know it, most of your business coming in are regulars that you can depend on time and time again.
How do we keep bad customers from effecting our bottom lines?
Attaining and Keeping Loyalty. Loyalty is what separates the good customers from the bad, and when a customer gives you their loyalty, your job becomes easy at that point. It is far easier to keep loyalty than it is to get ahold of it. The challenge then becomes, how can you convince a bad customer to change their minds and give you their loyalty rather than mistrust and possibly rude behavior?
Short answer is that making them like you is not your job, nor should it be if they come through your doors with a chip on their shoulders.
You are much more likely to earn a stream of reliable revenue from loyal customers. Not only are they almost guarantees of future sales, but their love for your business is free marketing that will spread through word of mouth to their family and friends who will then more than likely come to you with business needs when it is their time to call upon you.
Spending too much time putting out individual fires from bad customers that will eventually burn themselves out can hurt you in the long run, so be sure to make reinforcing the relationships with loyal customers a priority over trying to build an entirely new relationship with a bad customer. It is easier to keep and strengthen a relationship than it is to completely turn a broken one around.