From the moment I became an entrepreneur I been focused on dodging the stigma that "all Black businesses have poor customer service". Although the statement isn't true I refused to contribute to that belief. I have always went above & beyond to satisfy my customers/clients fully! The issue though is we talk so much about how small businesses must have high quality customer service but we never address how customers can be poisonous. Of course I have made mistakes along the way as every business does, but God as my witness I have ALWAYS strived to correct my short comings with customers because reputation is everything to small businesses and we must protect it with integrity.
Despite this I still have run into numerous of bad customers that care about nothing but their one sided perspectives. In 2012 I provided a service for a customer and he never paid me (this was prior to me using contracts. Silly Me!). In 2014 I was sued because a customer tried to bully me into giving her more than what she paid for in her wedding package. They paid me $500 she sued me for $1,000 in "damages". The judge settled the matter for $250. These are two examples of bad customer stories I have during this 7 year period as an entrepreneur. One thing I learned is it is OK TO SAY NO to these bad customers and stick to your guns. If you have a product based business then make sure you remind them of your return policies and such. If you have a service based business you have a little more leverage than your product based counterparts and you can flat out refuse to work for them from the start!
Here are 4 Mogul Motivation red flags to look out for in bad customers especially for service-based businesses:
1. High Contact frequency
There is a difference between a customer that has questions and a customer that is skeptical. If they ask general questions in the beginning which is expected that's normal but if they are constantly questioning you whether it be via email, phone, or in person there is a great chance they are skeptical about your business for some reason. At this point it'll be in your best interest not to work for that customer and keep it moving.
If a customer is rude and disrespectful then do not work for them. They can show signs of this in point #1 but it's also other things such as a customer not calling you by your right name. I remember this one instance where a customer was emailing me and then at one point she referred to me as "Will". This may seem minor but I felt disrespected by that because that is not my name and she knew this. If a customer disrespects you in anyway it's ok to not work for them and move on.
3. Issues with prices
If a customer complains about your pricing then they are bad news, PERIOD! Customers will purchase your product/service regardless of price if they truly want it! Complaining about price is perhaps the biggest red flag in a bad customers.
4. Want more for less
This is a very common issue in the service-industry. Customers want more for less. So they try to bargain with you to add more perks on for a price they verbally agreed to pay. Don't do it! When you know your worth this is not worth the headache at all. This is how I got sued in 2014. The customer wanted me to add more to their package after they already agreed on the services I said I would provide. When I delivered the final product they caught amnesia and forgot I said I would NOT do the extra things they wanted and then they sued me.
These aren't the only signs of course but these are the biggest ones I encountered on my entrepreneurial journey. You will save yourself a lot of stress by avoiding bad, poisonous customers. Entrepreneurship is already stressful as is. Yes customers keep our businesses open but that doesn't mean we need to submit to the ones that are harmful to us. Customers who appreciate us and see our value are the ones we need to focus on and continue to please. So remember it's ok to tell a customer NO and it's ok to stick to your policies and refuse refunds or anything that you know will inconvenience your business. Strive for great customer all the time and your reviews will speak for itself.