Let customers you can’t satisfy go.

Let customers you can’t satisfy go.

An interesting thing happened the other day while meeting with one of our clients – a reputable insurance agency not far from our office in Des Moines. We were in the midst of reviewing the results of their Net Promoter Score surveys and I was genuinely startled as he shouted “I can’t believe this! He scored us a three! I bend over backwards for this guy.” The agent was upset that a customer of his – a customer he finds himself many hours on the phone with – responded with a low score indicating they would not recommend his agency to friends or family. It turns out that some people you just can’t satisfy, right? What to do in this situation? I say, let them go.

Of course the initial thought of ridding yourself of disgruntled customers seems counterintuitive, destructive, and downright wrong to growing a business. They are still paying you, after all. Essentially you would be throwing away revenue, at least to begin with. But the truth is, almost all businesses have customers that siphon away so much time and resources that it is losing you money. In fact, books have been written on this subject alone. Entrepreneur and author Mike Michalowicz outlines in his book The Pumpkin Plan a strategy for businesses to identify their top clients and remove the rest of the less-promising clients. The goal is to free up time and resources for your most profitable clients.

Let me be clear, it is not a good idea to dispose of all customers that respond as detractors to a NPS survey. In fact, that would be a terrible idea. One of the benefits of the NPS is to identify those customers that are detractors and a method of determining why they are unlikely to recommend you. Many times an issue will simply need to be corrected and can be done so with a phone call. But then there are the customers that seem to just never be happy, no matter what you do. And, like I suggested to the agent I described above, let them go.

This poses the question of exactly how you let them go. Fulfil your obligations with them and do not pursue an extension of service when it becomes available. Recommend them to others. There is nothing wrong with suggesting they deal with a competitor that may be a better fit. Perhaps they would be happier with someone else, and it is a win win. If you are still hesitant just remember – detractors actively take business away from you via word of mouth – and if you are only spinning your wheels to fix the problem, they will continue to until their focus is with someone else.


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