Seriously Crazy Clients

Seriously Crazy Clients

February 2, 2012

“If you can learn from hard knocks, you can also learn from soft touches.” -Carolyn Kenmore

“The customer is always right” … right? Well, what happens when your customer is stone cold, Jack-Nicholson-in-the-sanitarium CRAZY? I wrote a couple weeks ago about when customers are difficult, but this is a whole different animal. I’ll address it in a moment, but before I do, a couple quick tax notes for you.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1) See above.

2) I hope you don’t mind, but I posted about how to get in touch with their employer should they not receive a W-2 on time.

I assume that’s not a problem for you? If it is, then you’re probably not working with us on it, and that’s easily fixed: 606-678-4372 But there *are* consequences for businesses who don’t get those W-2’s out.

Here’s a handy rundown I found which is pretty clear: ++

So, about those crazy clients: fortunately, we don’t see a lot of this in the operation of a tax and accounting business, but sometimes … well, it’s amazing how much people want to abuse your time and expertise. I’ll leave that one there.

This hasn’t been a recent problem (thank heavens!), but what DO you do when your client or customer goes well beyond the bounds of reasonable disturbance? Here’s a thought…

Mark Clark’s “Real World” Business Strategy Handling *Ridiculous* Clients

Last month, I wrote about handling upset customers, and I laid out a simple four-step method:

1) Hear the customer and don’t interrupt.

2) Mirror back (empathize) with something like: “I can understand why you’re upset.  I would be upset too.” Or, “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”

3) Ask: “What can I do to make this right?”

4)st is absolutely ridiculous, DO IT! But since I wrote it, I thought about — what happens if the customer is completely ridiculous?

Well, as the owner or general manager of the business you’ll need to decide just how much empowerment you’ll give your staff to resolve an issue. Let’s assume you have 3 levels of personnel in your business — front line, manager, and you. You might give the front line person the authority to give a $100 worth of satisfaction (credit, whatever) when the customer isn’t ridiculous — and up to a $50 credit if the request is ridiculous.

You might then give the manager the authority to give up to a $300 credit even if the customer is ridiculous — and a $1,000 credit otherwise. Notice that the ridiculous requests still get handled, just not as generously. Credits over this amount may need your personal approval. You’ll need to determine where these levels are and put them in writing. But just as important as where the levels are, is how everyone is trained to handle the ridiculous customer.

If our people think the client is being ridiculous, or the amount is more than they are comfortable with, they are trained to pleasantly stall for time and refer it to me with something like, “I’m sorry, I’ll need to talk with Mark about this.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing back before noon tomorrow. And if we can’t, I’ll be sure to call you.” Then be absolutely certain to get back to the client before your associate said you would.

When you have a PLAN in place, you can handle just about anything in your business. No matter how crazy. I’m personally dedicated to your success. Can other accountants say that?