Have you ever fired a client or customer?

Following up on yesterday’s post about firing your customers, I was wondering whether any of you had ever fired a customer. Tell me your stories — here or on your own space. I’ll link.

Update: given the way this thread is going, maybe I need to post on CRM, not firing your customers!

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"Have you ever fired a client or customer?" from Become a Consultant Blog at ConsultantJournal.com.

RobK says:

I’ve never had to fire a customer / client, but if I had I would see it as a failing on my part, even if only partially my fault. The most frustrating of my customers are those that can’t seem to get organised enough to hand over the project. Often this means that work doesn’t even get off the ground. Very frustrating, but the relationship just evaporates rather than ends in a termination.

Andrea says:

Thanks, Jane. Learning to identify those warning signs is certainly a valuable process!

Jane B says:

Yes, I’ve done it a few times. Realising that I don’t have to continue to work with a client – that I can choose to deliberately terminate an engagement has been very powerful learning as a consultant. It isn’t something I’ve done lightly, frequently or easily.
In each case, I’ve tried hard to make the engagement work. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and discussing it with other peers whose opinions I respect. But each case I now see shared similar characteristics: there were warning signs in the beginning. (I’ve got better at recognising & acting on those, & decline to begin an engagement now when they are present).
Warning signs I now pay great attention to include: lack of organisation or poor communication early on, poor/very slow payer often with very high focus on trying to drive my fees down, disinclination to actually engage with the issue (wanting a turnkey solution), family business (often people hold roles they wouldn’t attain in an open marketplace). But the biggest? Top decision maker/s (MD/CEO/whatever) I didn’t like/couldn’t respect/trust.

Bob the Builder says:

I’ve had construction clients who’ve been a real pain in the …, so I’ve politely fired them. You can usually tell at the outset whose going to drive you crazy. You should just go with your gut. The people who seem picky and annoying are the ones who always end up being picky and annoying. I’ve been a construction consultant for a while now and it never fails.

Angie Dixon says:

You don’t need CRM software to fire a client. You need customer relationship management processes. If you don’t get the idea of what customer relationship management is you are not going to be able to wave a magic wand once you install the CRM!

Lori S. says:

Oh, no kidding. Fired customers and clients all the time in implementation consulting. Art is right that a CRM makes it a lot easier to do. You can share notes across the company so everybody knows not to go out of their way with the client.

Art McPhee says:

I’m new to consulting so I haven’t had my “own” clients. But I have been part of business to business software companies where we strategically had to drop clients who weren’t working out for us. You always hear the customer is always right, but sometimes what’s right for the customer is another company! We used to avoid sending direct mail and newsletters to customers who cost us a lot of money to serve. We used our business software CRM to do it .It’s better that they forget about you than call you up and cost a bundle to serve.

Hey, any plans to write about business software?