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11 Ways You're Creating "Asshole" Customers


Listen to the audio version. 👆

 

A customer left an unfair 1-star review, sent a nasty email, or caused a scene.


If you let out a stream of creative curses that would make Samuel L. Jackson proud, I don't blame you.


But because I platonically love you, man, I want to tell you the truth.


The truth is - you may have had a hand in creating this "asshole" customer.


Bring peace (and more money) into your business by avoiding these asshole-customer-creating mistakes.


1. You haven’t set expectations

Want to speed run losing a customer?


Mismanage their expectations.


Set expectations for your service, communication, policies, and anything else that affects your customers.


If you don’t, your customers will. Then you both lose.


2. You aren’t meeting set expectations

Don’t set expectations that you can’t meet with incredible consistency.


Set expectations and have a system to ensure they’re met 99.99% of the time. Then, plan for the .01% ‘oops’ moments so you can minimize the effect on your customer.


When you don’t do what you say, you set the expectation that you aren’t trustworthy.


If your memory is like mine and has more holes in it than a colander, find a system that helps you keep it together.


Storytime: I just want my filters, man.

I recently had my HVAC unit cleaned, and the technician/owner was kind enough to offer to pick up a year's worth of filters for me and drop them off. I prepaid for them and was told he'd drop them off in a few days.


A month and 5 follow-ups later, I finally got my filters.


Had he not repeatedly set the expectation that he'd be by on X day, the wait would have been fine. The problem was failing to meet set expectations over and over again.


It's better to give an honest, reasonable expectation than try to meet one you don't know you can meet.


3. You’ve misplaced your listening ears

Listening is not:

❌ Trying to guess what they’ll say,

❌ Planning what you’ll say

❌ Getting defensive

❌ Interrupting

❌ Multi-tasking


Listening is:

✅ Being mentally and physically focused with them

✅ Asking clarifying questions

✅ Reflecting back on what you’ve heard


Clients who feel heard and understood come back (i.e., spend more money.)


To my neuro-spicy friends

As someone who has a spicy brain, this part sucks. I know.


The 'not' list is basically a list of all the things we do to self-regulate or what makes our brains different.


I promise to do an article separately about how to make adjustments for when you or your typical customers/clients don't fit neurotypical standards.


For now, the short answer is to lean into how you operate best and do your best to communicate that you hear them.


4. You lack conflict management skills

A customer comes in with an axe to grind.


Maybe it’s legit. Maybe it’s dumb.


Either way, you have to manage the situation. Carpe defect and all that jazz.


Handle conflict well, and you’ll save the situation with this customer and possibly gain others as well.


So relax, listen, be curious, and be kind - even if they get a little uppity.


BETWEEN THE LINES: Don’t focus on “beating" your customer. Focus on working with your customer so you both walk away feeling good.



A comic of a dog and cat about conflict management.


5. Your communication skills could use some polishing

Want a cool trick to creating happier customers?


Learn to be wildly clear when you communicate.


You don’t need to be Shakespeare, just basic communication skills.


When you communicate well, you’ll see a lot fewer asshole customers.



6. You’re being judgy or biased

We all come with experiences that create bias.


It’s our brain’s way of protecting us. But our brains can be overprotective assholes.


You can’t help the first thought that comes into your mind, but you can certainly choose the second thought and ensure your actions are kind and leading with generosity.


Keep the judgy shit to yourself.



7. You make it hard for customers to buy from you

Confused customers don’t buy.


Customers who spend more than 1.97 seconds figuring out what to do don’t buy.


Customers who can’t quickly find the information they need don’t buy.


Don’t make buying from you feel like a customer is solving the Davinci Code.


So do everyone a solid and make it easy.


A woman excitedly saying, "I love solving mysteries."
Said no customer ever.

8. Your service lacks consistency

A lack of consistency breaks customer trust and kills word-of-mouth potential.


If one customer has a great experience and recommends you to a friend who then has a bad experience, you’ve made the original customer look bad, and people don’t like that. You may lose two customers instead of one.


Take extra time to create a system to help with quality control.



9. Your policies are selfish

Business policies should do more than protect the business. They should set expectations, provide customers with guidance, and protect the customer, too.


Are your policies reasonable?


Fair?


Obnoxiously clear?


Take a look at your policies and see where you can be more customer-centric. Then, be open to feedback and adjust as necessary.



10. You don’t back your service

People aren’t buying with just their money but with their time. It makes purchases, especially big purchases, scary.


It requires trust that you will deliver what you promise.


Make it easier for customers to say yes to you by creating a guarantee.



11. You reward bad customer behavior

Adults are basically toddlers with a larger vocabulary and money.


They test boundaries. Some handle boundary-setting great, and others are assholes about it.


When you tolerate customers who bully, they push for more and take their shit show to other businesses.


It might feel easier to give in, but in the long run, it hurts your business.


Let’s collectively agree not to reward shitty customer behavior. Deal? Deal.


THE DIFFERENCE: There's a difference between a customer who is reacting due to misunderstandings or missed expectations and someone who is being manipulative.



THE TAKEAWAY:

Bad business practices and experiences create customers who react accordingly.


But they can also be rehabilitated through good business practices and experiences.


Set expectations, build trust, and communicate clearly with customers.


Then, if we all try to do better collectively, we will end up with customers we enjoy working with.

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