First, very few customers can be defined as bad customers. Do not confuse a challenging customer with a bad customer. Challenging customers are those who may be having some legitimate issues with your product or service and are now making your life miserable. Your number one priority is to address their issue and once that is done, nine times out of ten they will move back into your “good customer” column. Bad customers are the ones who, no matter what you do, abuse you and your staff. They constantly make unreasonable demands and threaten to hurt your reputation if their demands are not met. These people will suck the life out of your business. The only reason they remain with you is that your competitors have probably already fired them. Let’s face it, you don’t have the time to deal with them and you should politely tell them that you are ending the relationship. Apologize to them for failing to make it work and offer some suggestions of other companies that could take care of their needs.
I can recall very few times throughout my career when I have felt the need to fire a customer. However, I remember one instance several years ago with a customer who could not be pleased no matter what we did. She complained about everything. When she was on the phone with one of our customer service people and didn’t get the answer she wanted, after putting the rep through a verbal tirade, she would insist that we never make her talk to that person again. The truth is, we were running out of people to talk to her. We finally sent her a polite letter stating that we were sorry we were unable to sufficiently meet her needs and felt that it would be best to cancel her contract and give her the opportunity to move to a vendor that may be better suited for her. (My guess is that vendor did not exist). This action accomplished two things: One, it rid us of a person who took up valuable time that could be better used helping other customers; Two, it showed our employees that we cared enough to address a situation that made them extremely uncomfortable.