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What do you do when a client is continuously a disaster to work with or perhaps even toxic to your business culture?

Each of us do our best as team members and leaders to assure that a client has a remarkable experience while working with us. We stay in contact, we keep them informed. We ask great questions and we serve. Considering the very worst of clients, what do we do to assure that they are not hurting our business? Tough questions.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Ronda Gardner of Gardner Estate & Trust, CPA LLC regarding this very topic. She made a valid point that I would like to quote entirely regarding the perception we send our team when we allow such interaction:

“Firing” customers or clients can be uncomfortable, but retaining them is usually worse. I’ve worked in a company who resisted the termination of clients who were a drain on the time, resources, and morale of the business. The drain can come through failing to pay their bills, complaining incessantly, being rude and obnoxious to employees, or making unethical requests. Refusing to fire the client who is a drain on your business and who annoys or even abuses your employees sends a message to your employees that your worst customer is more important than your best employee.

Not one of us would knowingly and purposely suggest that our worst customer is more important than our best employee, would we?

My platform stands on brave leadership, customer service, and retention. I am not advocating that we clear our client list of all difficult clients. Clarity and hospitality are choice experiences for our customers. What I am asking is if we are aware of the ramifications when we do not dismiss those individuals who may or may not recognize their toxicity. If we fail in customer service, I would most prefer failing while striving to properly meet the needs of a client. It is paramount to the growth of a company to go the extra mile with a client in need of assistance. But make no mistake, there is a point in time, after properly assisting a problematic client, that reintroducing them to the market may be best for both parties.

What are your thoughts? What balance have you created in dealing with the tough client? Is there a time to “fire” them?

I acknowledge the wisdom and insight Ronda Gardner has shared with us. She makes a valid point. Let us find ways to support our employees and find harmony in our client interactions. We welcome your comments.


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