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6 Red Flags That Tell You It’s Time to Fire That Customer — Now

Don't let misfit customers drain your resources and derail your business. Here are six red flags that should tell you that you need to fire that problematic customer before one more payment gets processed

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The customer is always right, right? When you’re dealing with any of the toxic customers represented below, I’m not so sure. While misbehaving customers sounds like a success problem, it’s one of the unexpected intrusions that can send otherwise confident, capable entrepreneurs off their game and off their rocker. Sometimes, your best bet is to cut them loose and take the “L.” Here are six  to let you know it’s time to do that.

1. Insatiable

One of the keys to a successful, smooth-running business is to hold clear-cut, well-defined and directly communicated boundaries around what you offer. In other words, your product or service shouldn’t be vague or open to interpretation. Mine wasn’t, but a few hungry customers still attempted to take advantage of my company’s kindness.

We gave them what they paid for, but they wanted more. Wants turned into demands, which turned into expectations we bent over backward to meet, and it still wasn’t enough. If a customer appears insatiable, showing their impossibly high-maintenance colors upfront, you’re better off setting clear expectations at the  of disappointing them than bending to their every request. Insatiable customers by definition can’t be satisfied, and it likely isn’t worth your team’s time fighting a losing uphill battle.

Related: 5 Reasons to Fire a Customer — Plus 5 Steps to Take Before You Do

2. Reputational risk

Believe it or not, some customers out themselves as dangerous before making their first purchase. These are the people who tell you they’ve never been happy with a service provider in your industry. They brag about bad-mouthing other businesses that “did them wrong” and leaving scathing one-star reviews online. Simply put, these customers prove they could — and may — be retaliatory, volatile and a reputational risk if you don’t live up to their sky-high expectations. Don’t walk into a sabotage trap if a prospective customer flashes every preemptive warning. You have the right to refuse service; use it.

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