Working With a Difficult Customer

Avoid Trying to Prove Yourself Right

I noticed that Roy was upset, so I took the path of least resistance. I was aware that the problem rested with both of us, but this is not the time to find fault. As a project manager, my job was to solve the problem, and not to escalate the issue.

As we agreed, Roy and I talked a couple days after the issue was resolved, and he apologized for his unprofessional approach. He mentioned that the CEO was concerned about the missed deadline, and he was under tremendous pressure to get the work done. He admitted that failure to provide the content to us was the reason we were late.

Don’t be Afraid to Fire Unruly Customers

While building customer accounts is important to any business, we must be prepared to fire those individuals (or companies) that are unbearable. Once we deliver the product or service we promised, we can politely let them know that our plate is full.

I’ve learned that customers who haggle too much about price during the proposal discussion will be difficult to manage. Therefore, I terminate the discussion in a professional way, and our company is better off because of it.

A business friend told me that he identified the 20% of clients that generated 80% of his annual profit. By doing so, he recommended the other 80% of his clients to companies who could service them better. He now has fewer problem clients, and has the time to provide a higher level of service to the 20% who are happy about the services he provides.