Two notable bloggers (Inc. and The Frugal Entrepreneur) took up the subject of “disgruntled customers” last week. Since I have been interviewed twice in the past year on the very same topic, I thought why not comment on my own company blog? Both posts offer important insights, but the overall advice is largely reactive. The personal suggestions made below are, for the most part, proactive and meant to cut disaster “off at the pass.”
First rule of thumb is to accept the fact that “no” is not a dirty word. When someone is asking for goods and services that are beyond a company’s means to deliver, the account executive should say so. (Of course, this requires a realistic assessment of the company’s core competencies by the executive team in conjunction with its managers.) Secondly, there are some clients that can’t be satisfied, period. With practice, spotting trouble before it happens is very doable. Bottom line, stay alert to the warning signs*, and when in serious doubt, bow out gracefully. This is not to say, however, that a company shouldn’t be ready to “go the extra mile” when asked–it should just assess the race before entering it.
• Rounds and rounds of suggestions without a commitment
• Unrealistic expectations on price and turnaround times
• Unwillingness to pay hard costs when applicable
• General uncertainty regarding what is needed or wanted
• Lack of a budget