Joan Garbo Associates
Companies with reputations for excellence in customer service know that one of the most important factors in establishing this reputation is their ability to interact with upset clients so the customers become part of their “volunteer sales force.” However, even the very best companies encounter clients and customers who seem to be “difficult” to please, regardless of the best intentions of the company representatives. So how do you deal with “the impossible to please” customer?
In order to answer this question, you must first have a clearly defined set of core values which underlie your practice and which you use to make decisions on a daily basis. These values assist people in your firm to draw distinctions in the day to day dealings with each other and with customers. For example, if “treat others with respect and dignity”, and “integrity” are part of the core values, these shape and determine the kind of interactions people have with everyone in your company.
The other factor that must be considered is the “emotional” cost of doing business. Overhead can easily be computed by tallying numbers. Determining the emotional overhead is a hidden cost and cannot be determined by adding and subtracting dollar figures. However, it can be determined by assigning numbers in a (+) or (-) fashion to non-tangible aspects of business that create stress. For example, a client who is consistently late in paying for services causes more stress and time away from production, would be given a (-) evaluation. Someone who consistently breaks promises would be given a (-) evaluation. Someone who refers other prospective clients would be given a (+) evaluation. When one determines all the factors that create stress in doing business with a client, one can then add up the plusses and minuses to see what the outcome is. This emotional factor can then be weighed against the amount of actual dollars a client contributes to the gross production.
If you determine that your client has a positive value and has a complaint or a difficult situation with which to deal, then by all means, you should do whatever is necessary to please the client. On the other hand, if the client has a negative value, it may be time to refer the client to someone else.