At our quarterly meetings, a piece of paper is circulated among the team and everyone gets to write the name of a client we’d like to fire. The client listed most frequently on that sheet gets an email from me the same day explaining that we will work with them on a smooth transition to another agency.
We will not leave them hanging. We will professionally, efficiently and respectfully help them move to another agency, at which point we light a candle and say a little prayer for that agency – they don’t know what’s coming!
Why would I proactively and regularly fire clients? Two reasons: improved morale and better service.
I get to sit in my virtual corner office and lead the company; I only have to deal with out-of-control clients when the situation escalates. In the meantime, our amazing team gets the brunt of the daily grind with a cranky customer. For clarity, I am not talking about a tough client – someone who is demanding, but respectful and fair. We love tough clients who partner with us and challenge us to be better.
I am talking about the ones who are demanding and disrespectful. We don’t ‘do’ disrespectful.
I have two incredible daughters who I love more than anything in life. They do not get to be disrespectful or disrespected; I won’t tolerate either. So why then would I allow our loyal, hardworking and talented team to be disrespected? That would be putting profit (the revenue from a client who makes everyone miserable) above people. People come first. So, for the benefit of company morale, I can fire disrespectful clients.
Let’s pretend a company has 100 customers:
- 20 are ah-mazzz-ing, everybody loves interacting with them!
- 60 are good, everyone likes each other, value is provided, communication is regular.
- 20 are pains-in-the-patootie, everyone hates dealing with them.
In this scenario, who gets the attention?
It’s like having twins and one behaves very well, and the other throws temper tantrums on the daily. Who gets mom and dad’s attention?
It’s not legal in most states to toss an ill-behaved kid in the trash. You can, however, choose to throw an ill-behaved client in the trash for the sake of the well-behaved client.
We get rid of the constant distraction of the never-to-be-satisfied trouble makers, and free the team’s time and best energy to be focused on the ‘good kids’. Clients win when a bad client is canned.
We will continue to trash bad clients for the sake of our wonderful Bullseye team and the sake of our highly valued and non-pain-in-the-patootie clients.
If you’ve ever canned a patient, I’d love to hear your story.