Some are a delight. You just want to kiss their chubby cheeks and send them flowers in the post to express your love for them.
Other customers are little devils. They exist to screw with you. Their goal isn’t to solve a common customer problem. No.
It’s to become the problem.
What a bad customer looks like (in case you forgot)
I am an expert in bad customers.
Every so often I manage to attract them to my online business (to be clear they make up 0.001% of what I do, so it’s not common in case you’re wondering — still, it can feel like they’re 99% of customers).
I don’t try to … but somehow they land on my digital store steps ready to say “hey f*ckface, how are ya?”
They complain about nothing
“You never said this product wouldn’t cure world hunger and make me a millionaire. Where was the disclaimer? How dare you? This is a scam?”
What this customer is trying to say is “I’m a loser and always will be. I’m gonna blame you for my lack of success. I won’t take action and make a few small bets. I refuse to take a risk.”
“My purchase lets me outsource all of my life problems to you.”
They want discounts
A year ago a potential customer asked me for a massive discount.
“My life is hard. I’m gonna need you to give me an enormous discount.”
I replied and told them no. I don’t do discounts. And I told them it’s unfair to give them a discount if nobody else gets one.
They were from America, the land of opportunity. I mean, if you can’t make it happen in the US of A, then are you even trying?
When I have the ability to help others I prefer to focus on third-world countries where they have a genuine disadvantage. This is where the small number of scholarships I offer each year go.
Not to entitled wannabes who ask for discounts.
Life is hard for all of us. That doesn’t mean a business is going to give you 75% off because sharing is caring.
Expect free coaching
Some email questions are free coaching in disguise.
These terrible customers will present some long-winded scenario and then expect you to write a 5000-word essay on how to solve it.
Or they’ll expect you to jump on a Zoom call when your newborn baby has just pooped all over your favorite Rip Curl t-shirt, so they can throw questions at you for 2 hours for sh*ts and giggles.
Why you not care?
Customer questions don’t equal free coaching. When will they learn?
Skeptical … about everything
“How do I know this product will work? My grandma 65 years ago bought a learning product pre-internet and it was a disaster.”
Somehow you’re supposed to remove every risk in their life. All for $97.
They think the internet is a glorified scam. Nobody should be trusted. And if you dare talk about making money online, like I do, you must be a con artist that steals from grannies while you sleep.
Making money on the internet is no longer flash. Everyone who works a job is connected wifi. Everything = making money online.
If you don’t take a small risk then you won’t ever get the big rewards of asymmetric bets long term (google asymmetric).
Life = Risk
Passive aggressive tone
Some of these sh*tty customers you can accidentally attract into your life have a subtle way to unload their dumptruck of negativity on you.
They’ll even gaslight you into believing their tall stories. Before you know it, you’ll start to feel horrible for being in business. Like every dollar you make is funding a dictator’s war and causing kids to starve in Africa.
The longer your conversation goes on, the more guilty they make you feel. They’re a master of psychological manipulation. They’ve used it their entire life to get what they want and profit from it.
They’re never happy
If you’re like me you’re a people pleaser.
You try to make peace with these customers. “Leave each person better than you found them” is your happy-go-lucky motto, while you whistle your way to work like one of Snow White’s seven ugly dwarfs.
So you exchange their purchase. Or offer a partial refund. Or give them a freebie (this is what they secretly want).
But it’s never enough for them.
A small concession becomes a holy confession of guilt like one gives to the priest in the confessional box.
Now they’ve gotcha right where they want ya.
One thing leads to another. Before you know it you’ve given them everything but your kitchen sink and you’re standing out the front of your townhouse naked in a puddle of tears. It’s all your fault.
They’re toxic a-holes in your private community
Some products and services give you access to a community. This is the case with my business.
A one-in-a-million bad customer will go to that community and drop comment farts all over the good customers. They’ll question what you say. They’ll complain about your product in front of everyone.
They’ll take things you say on social media out of context and repost them in front of your customers. In some ways, private communities can be a blessing and a curse for an online business.
They can get used as ransom for bad customers who want free stuff.
The smart strategy to get rid of sh*tty customers forever
These strategies don’t just apply to online business owners like me.
No. If you work a job and touch customers in any way, these techniques will save your life from instant ruin. I’m about to save you from dying a thousand ugly deaths by customer paper cuts. You’re welcome.
1. Send this badass reply
The more you say the bigger the grave.
My favorite tactic is to email a sh*tty customer with one word: refunded. No explanation. No nice talk. Just an “I see what you’re doing and it ain’t gonna fly, pal.” They can’t argue because they got their money back.
This isn’t what they often want though. But trust me … it’s what you want. You’ll make 10x more money by just getting them out of your life.
One-word emails are mighty powerful.
2. Block them from your email list forever
Now they’re gone you’ve got to make sure they don’t do it again.
I had one bad customer 5 years ago do this. I got rid of them and then they came back 6 months later and did it all again. I have a bad memory and can’t remember every customer.
So they tricked me. I didn’t see their previous history.
The way to avoid this problem is to go to whatever email software you use, and not only unsubscribe them, but click the block button. This means they’ll never get your offers again. If they try to sign-up again with the same email address it won’t work. And they’ll never know why.
Then if you block them in your email software too (Gmail for me), you’ll never even get their random email that says “ummm, how come I can’t see your email newsletter anymore?”
Silence is golden.
Bringing it all together
As you can see the vaccine is easy.
Don’t waste your time and money on bad customers. The problem isn’t you, it’s them. And you get to choose who you do business with.
Spend more time with rational customers who see your value, and don’t waste a second with a psychologically manipulating email warrior who’s tryna hustle you for a discount for fun on a Friday night.
The internet has billions of people. Work with the 95% who’ll treat you right without tryna take the shirt off your back.
Oh, and never let one bad customer piss all over your good customers who pay your bills, by letting them into your community.