You’ve no-doubt heard of the 80/20 rule in business: how 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers (the best customers). The reverse can also be true: 80% of your hassles will come from 20% of your customers (the worst customers).
I know the theory says you should concentrate on the best customers but I had a recent reminder that even in a crummy economic climate, it’s just not worth doing business with some people.
I’ve got a DVD that I produced as a hobby and sell it over the internet. $27 including delivery anywhere in the world. It’s very niche and something that I play around with to test various marketing techniques. I use just-in-time manufacturing to produce the product in small runs.
I’d run out of DVD cover inserts and emailed everyone who had an outstanding order a nice message letting them know that their package would be off in the mail tomorrow.
Then I get this email back from one guy in the US: “If my order isn’t here by tomorrow, I’m calling my CC company and cancelling.”
Tomorrow?! You’re in the US and I’m in New Zealand!
I actually had his order packed at this point, so I wrote a good email back saying I would happily refund his money if his didn’t want to continue with the order. His call.
I also had to point out that there was no way his DVD would get there overnight. There was a 5-10 days delivery time, as stated on my sales website.
It was an informative, courteous email.
And I get his email back: “Send the DVD.”
That’s it. No “hello”, “goodbye” or “thanks for your email. “Just “Send the DVD.”
Maybe I’m old fashioned but I expect some level of common courtesy. If this is how the guy communicates with people, it didn’t bode well to me about a business transaction.
I got really uneasy, so did some searching on the internet and found out a bit about this guy.
By then I no longer trusted that when the DVD did arrive that it wouldn’t get reported as ‘lost’ or that he’d still ask for a refund or have some other complaint. He’d just tagged himself as a ‘worst 20% of customers.’
So I emailed him back and said I was unhappy with the transaction and gave him a full refund – even for the credit card charges I had paid all ready.
That was the last I ever heard from him. I wasn’t surprised.
So don’t forget to weight up the level of hassle those annoying, picky or rude customers are going to bring to you and see if they’re really worth it.
$27 certainly didn’t cut it for me.