Why You Should Fire a Customer Today

Have you ever had a customer you regret becoming involved with?
I spoke to a printer recently who told me an incredible story. This printer had a customer who had rejected a poster that had been produced. The digitally printed poster didn’t match a litho leaflet that the customer had. So the printer asked for a copy of the leaflet (which they had never been given in the first place). They reprinted the poster for free. The colour was now pretty close. But it wasn’t an exact match. So the customer rejected it again.4715
The printer spoke to me because he didn’t know what else he could do for the customer. He knew that the customer would keep on rejecting it until he had an exact colour match. But an exact colour match might never be possible. “If I don’t match the colour exactly, he’s never going to pay me,” said the printer. “He’s done this to me before.”
Sometimes it’s better to fire a customer
In this case, the cost of the job wasn’t worth trying to put right. The customer was demanding what might be impossible. The printer had already shown goodwill in reprinting for free.
When I heard that it wasn’t the first time that the customer had done this, alarm bells started ringing. This was someone who was costing the printer a lot of money.
Let’s look at the true cost of customers like these
Many people tend to look at the cost of these customers in terms of losses on individual jobs. In this example, the printer would be running at a loss after reprinting. This would happen even if he managed to persuade the customer to pay.
However, the true cost of these customers is far greater. As well as the job production costs, there are the costs of servicing them. Clients like these are never simple to manage. The time in communicating with them typically far outweighs the time spent on other customers. But many other customers are much easier and nicer to deal with.
The other big cost comes in the form of the opportunity cost. How else could you be using that time spent dealing with problematic customers? You could be upselling more profitable clients. You could be winning new clients. You might even be spending this time with friends or family.
I told the printer to get rid of this customer
It wasn’t worth the time or effort in dealing with them. They were better off firing them.
Sometimes we are too scared to fire a customer, even though we know that it’s the best thing to do. Some companies have more customers that they should fire than they realise! Firing certain customers can have a very positive impact on your business. But which ones should you fire? I’ll deal with this in more detail in my next article.
Have you ever dealt with a customer that you contemplated firing? How did you deal with the situation? I’d love to hear your perspectives!
Editors Note: This post is part of a larger series on managing your customers:

If you’d like more ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them.”  You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.

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