What do you do when you have a customer that asks for a discount off every item? Do you give them what they ask for, stop doing business with them, or do you just hide when you see them coming?
Let’s hope that it’s none of the above. Although some customers are difficult, it is still best to value them and keep them coming back. However, you don’t want to give in to their every wish because they will bankrupt your company! Here are six tough customer scenarios, and how you can deal with it.
1. The “I don’t have any money” customer. This is the customer that is always short of cash for some reason. You may try to have a 101 consultation with them, but they aren’t able to purchase what you’re selling. Or maybe they walk into your store, but never have the money to pay for what you have there.
There are some customers who truly are on a budget, but most of the time when a customer says they don’t have any money, what they are really saying is “I’m not interested in what you’re selling.” When you are selling something they truly want, all of a sudden the money they say they don’t have will appear. TIP: You will not be able to satisfy every customer. Why? Because every customer should not be your target anyways. Business people always make the mistake of targeting people that they really shouldn’t do business with. They want to sell something to absolutely everyone, and that is unrealistic. The people that you are targeting should be first and foremost able to afford what you’re selling. If they aren’t, then they shouldn’t be on your radar.
2. The “Can I have a discount?” customer. This customer actually expresses interest in what you’re selling, but they always want to pay less than what you ask for. This customer is basically just like the customer in point number one. The difference with this customer is that they are actually expressing to you that they want to do business with you, but they can’t completely afford what you have. You have to respect their honesty. TIP: If you are in a position where you have the right to shave a few dollars off the price (10% is the safest number), then feel free to do that to make the sale. You don’t want to lose a valuable customer over a few dollars. But if you can’t give them a discount, say, “That wouldn’t be fair to all my other customers that pay full price for our products.” When you say this, you are showing them that the price has not been a problem for your other customers. You are also showing them that you have integrity and do not wish to overcharge and undercharge certain customers.
3. The “Bill me later” customer. This customer always wants to credit everything, and takes as long as they can to pay the amount in full. This customer (if any) is disposable. When a customer has received the service but does not want to pay, they are harming the cash flow of your business. They are basically stealing from you, and once you’ve shoplifted from a store, they kick you out and restrict you from coming back. That’s what needs to happen in this case. TIP: A great way to deal with these kinds of customers is to have an upfront payment policy. With this policy, each customer is to pay a given percentage upfront. If a customer is willing to pay an upfront payment, they may not have any intentions on stealing a service. But if they fight with the idea of paying anything upfront, they may not be the kind of customer to take a risk on.
4. The “I’ll get it later” customer. This is something that people who do customized work may understand. There are customers that will always miss the given date to pick up an item or come in for an appointment. They always show up hours or even days late. These customers don’t understand that time is money, and once you’ve done the work, you are ready to get paid! TIP: There is a saying that goes “the customer is the boss“, but I would like to add something to it: The customer is the boss-and they know it. This is especially true when the country is in economic trouble. The customer knows that you need their business, and they can come and go whenever they want because you can’t afford get rid of them. The best thing to in this situation is have a late or storage fee. When something is stored in your place of work for days past its due, charge a small fee for every day the customer doesn’t show to pick up the item. For small businesses, a fee of $2-$5 a day may be a perfect price.
5. The “I rather shop elsewhere” customer. This is the customer that tries to make you feel bad about your business by saying, “I could go across the street and get a better deal.” This customer is trying to get you to compete for their business-and this isn’t always a bad thing. You do need to be aware of what your competitors are doing, but 9 times out of 10, this customer is just trying to get more for less. Telling you where else they can go is a way to send you in panic mode so you can start dishing out the discounts.TIP: Tell your customer that the “competitor” they speak of may not be offering the same quality as you do. Say, “Maybe they do have cheaper prices, but the quality may be cheaper too. Most businesses price their items according to the quality they put into it. Cheap prices mean cheap quality.” This brings the customer to focus on what’s most important-quality. So many customers get so hung up on price, but it is your job as the sales person to show them that your product or service has quality, and that’s what differentiates you from your competitor.
6. The “I can’t decide” customer. This is the customer that takes forever to decide if they want to make a purchase or not. People who do direct sales may be able to recognize this the most. When you are consulting a customer at their home, they may take their time to make a purchase because they don’t realize that you have other customers to meet with. They act as if they are your only customer. TIP: You must set a certain amount of time to spend with each customer. 10 minutes is the most reasonable. Tell them as you’re going in, “May I have about 10 minutes of your time?” This lets your customer know that you do not have any intentions on staying the night. Once the 10 minutes is up, if they haven’t decided what they want, take down their name and number and tell them you’ll give them a call to get their order.
So there you have it, six ways to deal with a difficult customer. Some of them are unique to certain kinds of businesses, but nonetheless they are out there, and now you know how to handle them.