Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Firing Customers: Why and How

Those of us in professional services or B-to-B services have no doubt encountered less-than-desirable customers.  Many articles and books have been written about firing those clients. (I came up with 1,540,000 results for Google with the keywords “firing clients.”)  Here is just a sampling of results worth mentioning:

  1. 1. Inside CRM: Top 10 Ways to Fire the Client From Hell.  Despite the irreverent title, this article plainly describes the type of situations a B-to-B and/or services company might encounter, from “penny-pinchers” to “unreliable” to “abusive” clients.  Sad but true, they do exist.
  2. Duct Tape Marketing: What’s the Best Way to Fire a Client.  Although the article is more about tactical execution, and I’m not a fan of raising fees as a tactic, this post acknowledges that “sometimes the best thing you can do is let a client go.”
  3. U.S. News & World Reports: You Don't Need the Aggravation: When to Fire a Client.  Many of the same points above made but backed  by national media and with a succinct summary of results: “bad clients may lead to all kinds of trouble, like low employee morale and the inability to adequately service good clients and find more profitable accounts.”
  4. Entrepreneur.com: Fire Your Bad Clients.  Again, national media backing the concept, this time invoking the 80/20 rule. 
  5. Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails. This is a book by Scott McKain and although I haven’t read it, he has published an informative article on MarketingProfs.com: Why You Should Fire (Some of) Your Customers.  Herein, he recommends who to keep and who to discard by category (very helpful!) and  smartly states: “We spend more time than we really have to give pleasing a customer we never should have solicited in the first place.”

A future post will highlight alternatives to firing clients for B-to-B service providers. Stay tuned or sign up to get feeds.

P.S. For independent PR people, I just found this excellent industry-specific post on SoloPR from guest blogger Heather Whaling of Geben Communication.

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