Lessons & Learnings

Knowledge to help grow, improve and build a profitable business — to your inbox.

Dealing With Customers From Hell - 5 Ways To Approach It

Business Lessons

Vxy5d9birrerr1bih1a2

You groan at your inbox when the email rolls in or you see that number on the caller ID. You are hesitant to pick up your personal phone because it may just be that customer complaining about the minuscule detail. 

Do you have a customer that won't stop contacting you about their job even though you have made yourself explicitly clear?

Do you have the customer that has requested 15 proof revisions and still is not happy?

What about the customer that nickel and dimes you for every order, and still continues to critique the quality of the shirts?

Or the customer that will unbox and inspect every single item looking for any little flaw to make a fuss about?

The list can go on and on. You can spend an entire day brainstorming other "hellish" features. 

Truth be told, customers carry different personalities into your business. They have pre-dispositions, mixed industry knowledge, and an opinion. You can argue that every customer can come in with a clean slate, but if they are coming to you, that could mean they have left someone else. 

Let's put ourselves in the customer's shoes for a second. There is a reason a customer can turn sour. A customer buying decorated goods is most often buying it on behalf of an organization. They have one goal: to get the order correctly. All other factors trump their other intentions. The reason they may not be easy to work with is that something triggered them.  Let's brainstorm a few examples:

Customer A used previous printers that did not know how to screen print, and they had poor looking items for their event. 

Customer B has a very specific event deadline, and if they don't have products in time, it could be disastrous. They have a million other things to get done before their event, this is a pain in the neck to them. Customer B is taking it out on you. 

Customer C does not quite understand screen printing and thinks printing a shirt is like pressing print on a computer. They expect a different industry standard and when those expectations are not met, they become frustrated. 

Customer D wants each print to be appropriate to the garment size and wants ink changes on garments that are difficult to source. They want everything a certain way because they think that is how everyone does it. 

Do you notice a re-occurring theme here? The customer has an expectation that is not how you do things. This creates trust issues.

It is no different to going out to dinner and expecting to be seated in 15 minutes only to wait 40 minutes and another 10 minutes to get water. That dining experience created a lack of trust and now you have become a concerned consumer. 

So how do you eliminate and avoid these customers? There are several best practices and everyone has different strategies.  It all comes down to trust.

1. Create a Strong Initial Interaction 

First impressions are everything for you. This is the first time your customer meets you and sets the standard for how they will interact with your business. Do you have a written out protocol script that you go through each and every time? Or do you make it up as you go. 

Here is where you set expectations for the mutual agreement you and your customer are agreeing to in order to work together. Think about it like a "team charter".

This is how you will do business with them, and if you outline these specifically and walk them through the job process, they will be better-educated customers. 

Get them to understand what minimums are, when they will expect a proof, the terms of payment, and what it takes to add more colors or complexities to the jobs. 

2. Be "Extra" About Communication

If you sense that you have a "red flag" customer, go the extra mile, and flag the job as a high priority. Use this opportunity to "win over" the trust of your customer by being so good at communication it hurts. Send them followup emails, calls, and ensure that they are well informed along the way. 

3. Teach, Don't Tell

Customers have certain expectations because they simply are not the experts in your industry. Can you blame them? Instead of letting them know that each ink color cost more show them via video, in person, or through literature, what that physically means. Let them understand that each ink color equates to a single screen.

If they don't quite understand why they are picking difficult garments to print on them, show them what flashing is. Get them to an "ah hah" moment so they can become better customers. 

When they want a bunch of revisions on artwork use a software like Loom to show them what you are actually doing. 

4. Step In Their Shoes 

When you can identify with your customer's concerns and feel their pain, they will trust you more. It can also give you a better perspective of what their pain points are and will help you create a business that alleviates those pains. 

If your customer struggles with order forms, help make them one. If they are not good at sorting products, do one order with them. Go to their office and put yourselves in their environment. This builds trust. 

5. Ask Your Customers

Regardless of your customer, loyalty and ease of working together boils down to one simple question. Does your customer truly trust you? Have you taken the time to actually listen to them, and identify what it is they are so frustrated with? Even if you don't agree with them, ask them to speak their problems out loud to you, calmly, so that you can absorb them. 


Next Post: Introducing Payment Reminders


About Printavo

Printavo is simple, shop management software. We work with screen printing, embroidery, awards & engraving, signage and digital printing companies to make your workflow easier. Our software helps you keep your shop organized by handling scheduling, estimating, quote approvals, workflow, payments, accounting and more. This all allows you to work smarter, not harder.

Get free business lessons delivered to your inbox.

No charge. Unsubscribe anytime.