In an impersonal, technological age, the fickle customer has become more common. After all, why should they not go to the place where they can get the desired product faster and cheaper? In many cases, the fickle customer will want last-minute changes to their order, which may or may not be an easy fix for the company. What do you do when a customer wants changes that will cost money or delay the production process? Better yet, how do you keep customers content so they do not become fickle customers in the first place?
Consider these tips for dealing with fickle customers without running your business into the ground.
Preventing the Fickle Mentality
To prevent fickle customers from moving to the business down the street at the first inkling of dissatisfaction, you must build your customers' loyalties up front. Customer loyalty is directly related to the relationship you form with your customer. If the individual feels they are treated more like a person than a number, they will be much more likely to stand by your products and services for the long term. This sense of loyalty makes it much easier to deal with occasional changes or demands that you find difficult to accommodate.
Set Realistic Expectations
Your customers should know what to expect from your company right from the beginning in terms of the time it will take to get a product, the choices in products available, and the ability to make last minute changes. When fees are involved with particular changes, your customer should understand what they are before they sign on the bottom line. If your customer has realistic expectations from the first encounter, they will be less likely to try to push unreasonable demands on you throughout the transaction process.
Get Agreements in Writing
A written contract is an easy way to counter the unreasonable demands of a fickle customer. When fees and delays are clearly stated in the contract, your customer cannot get too upset if their last minute changes come with additional cost or take more time to complete. If you do not use written contracts in your business, follow up your initial contact with an email or letter stating the terms of your agreement.
Define the Boundaries
If you are offering a limited time offer or bending the rules for a customer, make sure they understand the boundaries of the deal. Some business owners make the mistake of trying to attract new customers by offering less-than-profitable terms on the first sale, and then get duped into continuing the practice because the limits of the deal were not clearly laid out. Do not count on your customer to read the fine print on your promotional material or contract. Explain the terms as well so there is no misunderstanding in the future.
Fickle customers are a necessary evil in business today, but there are many steps you can take to protect yourself from last minute changes or unreasonable demands. By dealing with customers in a direct, honest fashion from the very start, you will be more likely to prevent difficult situations and additional time and cost investments.
- Meredith Estep