How Hampton Roads Small Businesses Should Handle A Crazy Customer

We’re keeping our powder dry over here at Virginia Accounting Services, as it relates to the “American Rescue Plan” proposed by Biden. There’s plenty of talk about it … but as of yet, nothing has passed.

I prefer to live in the world of what *is* — instead of speculation.

When something gets passed, I’ll have more to say to my Norfolk small business tax clients.

In the meantime … it’s tax time.

If you need to get on our calendar, NOW would be a good time to do so:

The March 15th deadline for Hampton Roads corps is coming, and while extension is always an option … it would feel great to get things handled. Clean up your 2020 books, and let us dive in on your behalf.

Now … last week I wrote to you about some of those struggles, specifically as to when you and your team are dealing with angry customers over some sort of problem.

And I gave you a framework for that which involves hearing the customer and making things right.

However … sometimes that’s actually not enough because you are dealing with a customer who has completely lost control.

(Sadly, I’ve heard from some Hampton Roads business owner clients who deal with a large volume of customers that this kind of behavior has increased over recent years; which I find concerning for our culture.)

So, here are some ideas for that particular circumstance…

How Hampton Roads Small Businesses Should Handle A Crazy Customer
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

Last week, I wrote about handling upset customers, and I laid out a simple four-step method:

1) Hear the customer and don’t interrupt.
2) Mirror back (empathize) with something like: “I can understand why you’re upset.  I would be upset too.” Or, “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”
3) Ask: “What can I do to make this right?”
4) Resolve – Unless the request is absolutely ridiculous, DO IT!

But what happens if the customer in your Norfolk business is completely ridiculous?

It starts here: as the owner or general manager of the business you’ll need to decide just how much empowerment you’ll give your staff to resolve an issue.

Let’s assume you have 3 levels of personnel in your business — front line, manager, and you. You might give the front line person the authority to give $100 worth of satisfaction (credit, whatever) when the customer isn’t just being ridiculous — and up to a $50 credit even if the request is ridiculous.

You might then give the manager the authority to give up to a $300 credit even if the customer is ridiculous — and a $1,000 credit otherwise.

Notice that the ridiculous requests still get handled, just … not as generously.

Credits over this amount may need your personal approval. You’ll need to determine where these levels are and put them in writing. But just as important as where the levels are, is how everyone is trained to handle the ridiculous customer.

If your people think the client is being ridiculous, or the amount is more than they are comfortable with, they should be trained to pleasantly stall for time and refer it to you later with something like, “I’m sorry, I’ll need to talk with my supervisor about this.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing back before noon tomorrow. And if we can’t, I’ll be sure to call you.” Then be absolutely certain to get back to the client before your associate said you would.

When you have a PLAN in place, you can handle just about anything in your Norfolk business. No matter how crazy.

We’re here to help. Let me know if you have any business tax or financial questions. Use this:

I’m grateful for our partnership and for your referrals.


Steve Kallam
(757) 857-1880
Virginia Accounting Services

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