Thursday, June 12, 2008

Firing a Client - but...

A while ago I wrote about having the courage to fire a client. Today i was reading through the blog of one of my Facebook friends (Andrea J. Stenberg) and she too had written about firing a client. BUT.... the thrust of her argument was not to have the courage to fire a client but to know when NOT to. Here is a sobering thought taken verbatim from her blog post:

However, there are times when someone looks like a client from hell, acts like a client from hell and sounds like a client from hell. But isn’t. The trick is to know the difference.

Many years ago, in a different lifetime, my husband and I ran a computer store.(...)
We’d only been in business for about six months when we had our first Christmas. Two days before Christmas, right at closing time we got a call from a customer who had just purchased a computer. The computer was crap, it wouldn’t work, we were awful people and we’d better get over there right away and fix it.

Our policy was that we didn’t do house calls, unless you paid for it. If you had a problem with a computer, you had to bring it in. That said, we could usually talk a customer through a problem over the phone; the most frequent computer defect usually turned out to be a disconnected cable.

My husband’s first inclination was to blow this guy off. He had started the phone call with guns blazing and had set my husband’s back up. Add to the mix that we had our own family Christmas to prepare for plus lots of customers we were still dealing with. He was ready to write this guy off as a client from hell.

But something told me not to let this go. I calmed my husband down and persuaded him to go to the guy’s house even though it was against our policy. After all, it was Christmas.

Less than an hour later he returned a very subdued man. It turns out this irate customer had purchased the computer with his wife as a Christmas present for their grandchildren. Since ordering the computer, his wife had died. This was going to be her last present to the grandkids. He wanted them to be able to wake up Christmas morning and have a working computer waiting for them from Grandma.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the computer. This man just didn’t have anything left in him to wrestle with setting up the computer. His rage at my husband and nothing to do with the computer and everything to do with the curveball life had thrown him.

By taking an hour out of his day, my husband helped this man get through an emotional event without his wife. He made what was going to be a sad Christmas a little happier for some kids. And in the process he created one of our biggest supporters.

I don’t know how I knew that this man wasn’t a client from hell. But I’m glad I listened to my intuition that day.

Andrea J. Stenberg

Worth thinking about.....


Anonymous said...

This story is a wonderful example of not letting mind monkeys control your thoughts and following your gut feelings, your intuition. It is amazing how with all the people that exist, the universe manages to bring each one of us together in unique and meaningful ways if we will just remain open to it.

SunraySheryl said...

(Where's the kleenex? Maybe if I keep blinking, the tears will stay put.)

Sometimes we read really touching things people forward, not really knowing if they were true, but this is close to hand.

Respecting people in their pain can really turn things around. Good thing to stay in tune, and catch these opportunities to be supportive.