Is Your Business Being Held Hostage By Overly Demanding Customers?

How to deal with customers who believe that everything needs to be done yesterday

I once had a client who would call or email and demand that I drop everything immediately to get their new and urgent job done. The problem was that every job of theirs was urgent.

And so, every time I received another urgent call, I would drop everything, my entire business would come to a standstill, and other clients would get sidelined, just to meet the unrealistic and often rude demands from this one client.

The final straw came when she called me on a Monday morning demanding that I get a project done by Friday. That gave me five days to finish a project that would normally have taken three weeks. I worked around the clock, and completed the project by 4 p.m. that Friday.

After some brief celebration with the team, I called to let her know the report was on its way, only to be told by her assistant that she had left for a two-week vacation a few days back.

Then and there, I vowed to get ride of these “urgent, urgent, urgent” customers once and for all.

I introduced a new pricing schedule. I would gladly deliver urgent jobs, but I’d charge a 100 percent premium on top of the normal rate. Semi-urgent jobs would cost 50 percent more.

The results were interesting. Did I lose any customers? Not a single one. But what did change was the way my clients defined the word “urgent.”

What was even nicer was that I noticed that my more demanding customers actually became much more organized. They seemed to respect my time, and me, much more. Suddenly I wasn’t being taken for granted.

Bottom line: Don’t let your business be held to ransom by a few unrealistic customers. It is easy to get rid of them, but surely a better outcome is to retrain them.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Dec 4, 2013

ANDREW GRIFFITHS | Serial entrepreneur and author

Andrew Griffiths is a Cairns, Australia-based serial entrepreneur and the author of 11 books about starting, managing, and growing small companies. For more Andrew, check out www.andrewgriffiths.com.au.

Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: