Should You Fire A Customer?

You're Fired!In this article Larry Galler questions Sprint Nextel’s decision to fire it’s customers.

The cellular telephone company Sprint Nextel recently sent a polite but firm letter to a very small percentage of their customers.

The essence of the letter was that, as hard as the company has tried to satisfy those people, they remain unsatisfied so Sprint Nextel was not going to service them any longer. They fired those customers!

The fired customers were people who called the company’s customer service department continually, far more than the average customer, and the calls were on trivial matters.

This high level of customer service calls caused the company to staff the department with more people, lose money on these customers, and not be able to give timely service to other customers who need to talk to a customer service representative with a real problem. Evidently the company decided that they would be better off if they eliminated this group of demanding people who were not profitable and probably never would be profitable.

When I read about this (I was not one of the people who received this letter) I thought about all the businesses that work hard to please customers only to find that there are some people who just can not be satisfied.

These companies may lose money every time those customers come back for any number of reasons such as perceived quality issues, excessive service demands, slow pay, etc. and yet the company continues to service them hoping that they can actually make the customer happy and profitable this time. Perhaps these customers should be fired also.

But before taking that final step, I’d suggest that the company communicate with the customer and take the courageous step of telling a customer that there is a problem that needs to be worked out or the company can’t continue to do business with them any longer.

If your company has some customers that are more trouble than they are worth consider charging an extra service fee if they want extra service, talking to them to discover what it might take to satisfy them, or whether you should just fire them and send them to your competitors; it will make them crazy.

About the Author

Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, “Front Lines with Larry Galler”.

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