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Customers are like snowflakes; no two are alike.  Some are wonderful people that reinforce your belief in humanity while others make you question why you ever got out of bed. Thankfully, most customers fall somewhere in the middle and are pleasant, happy people. It’s important to recognize the potential high maintenance customers before you accept their orders and to be aware of potential business challenges you may face.  So how do you spot different personalities?  Here are a few observations:

Demanding Divas

Divas want your undivided attention and believe that they are your only customer. They flood your inbox with status update requests and nagging phone calls.  They ask many questions and may possibly ask for samples prior to placing an order.  While it’s okay to treat your customers well, it’s not okay for a customer to make unrealistic demands on your time or business, to the detriment of your bottom line or ability to serve other customers.

To determine if you have a Diva on your hands, ask yourself:

  1. Am I getting a higher volume of emails/texts/phone calls from this customer?
  2. Do they want more than what I’ve been paid to provide?
  3. Can I afford to spend additional time/resources working with this customer? Is this person negatively affecting my business?

If you have answered yes, it’s time to ask yourself:

  1. Will I financially benefit from the additional efforts needed to appease this customer?
  2. Do I need to charge more for the products/services to offset the additional secretarial work?
  3. Do I want to work with this person/organization?

If you aren’t up for the challenge, politely and professionally decline the job offer.  If you aren’t sure how to word your correspondence, check out our post about how to say “please,” “no thank you,” and “I’m sorry” for some tips. There are instances when the compensation isn’t worth your sanity.  If you are looking for a challenge, adjust your pricing accordingly to compensate for the additional manpower required to perform services.

The Frugal Shoppers

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the Divas are the Coupon Clipping, Penny Pinchers that will haggle over any price you present.  These shoppers are not brand loyal and do not provide a solid repeat customer base.  They will demand deep discounts on everything and shop around for the best price.  Some may go as far as asking if you price match your competition!

Periodically running sales and special pricing is a great way to build a clientele, but it isn’t wise to discount products or services just because a client demands it.    A simple, polite response explaining that a discount is not available is usually enough to encourage the bargain hunter to move along.  Keep in mind that if the shopper really wants your work, they will pay your asking price.

Chronic Complainers

Some people are just chronic complainers.  They are not happy if they are not complaining.  There is no way to please these people and a small percentage have perfected complaining to acquire free items from merchants.  One way to spot a CC is if they criticize other businesses in your respective field or your products prior to purchase.   If you notice this behavior, ask yourself:

  1. Why are they complaining and is it a valid complaint?
  2. Do I want to work with this person?
  3. Will they complain about me and my business?

If you encounter a CC, it may be best to limit your business dealings with them and even possibly discontinue your professional relationship.   Unjustified criticism is difficult to hear and can damage your self-confidence.  Also, it’s important to consider the long-term damage this person may inflict on your business if their complaints go viral.  No business wants a bad reputation, so knowing when to pass on an offer is important.

As Sir Francis Bacon once said, “knowledge is power.” Understanding your customer will allow you to make better business decisions, tailor your communications and most importantly, build a solid customer base.

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Christine Warren is a successful, self-employed designer and artist. For the last 23 years, she has designed and created many works of art including one-of-a-kind costumes, pageant, and bridal gowns, and pageant sashes. Last year, she recognized the need for a blog that focuses on creative sewing techniques, sewing products and business issues facing small business owners. She recently launched her blog, The Creative Sewist, www.thecreativesewist.com. Christine can be reached via email at info at thecreativesewist.com

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