How to Fire a Customer Compassionately

how to fire a customer compassionately

Sometimes, as an MSP owner or executive, you find yourself in a client relationship with someone who’s not a dream client. No doubt that’s a difficult situation. Firing an MSP client should usually be a last resort when nothing else has worked. Also, remember that the providers who can successfully manage even the most difficult clients often reap financial rewards unavailable to other providers. Think long and hard before you make the business decision to terminate a business relationship with a bad client. Also, think long and hard about how to fire a customer to minimize damage to your business.

Here are some candidates MSP owners should consider firing:

  • Clients who don’t pay
  • Unethical clients
  • Clients where it’s not a good fit, such as a client whose primary needs are for services that you don’t offer.
  • Clients who don’t communicate
  • Clients who don’t follow your instructions
  • Clients who are too time-consuming
  • Clients where you dread the thought of working with them
  • Clients who are abusive to you or your team members
  • Clients who are unprofitable for you

There certainly could be other types of bad clients you encounter in business. Regardless, it’s usually a tough decision for an MSP business owner to make.

Sometimes, in order to provide good customer service to your good clients, you need to get rid of bad clients or clients that aren’t a good fit.

When you decide you’ve had enough of a difficult client, here are some considerations for how to end the business relationship.

Are They Really Bad Customers or Just Difficult?

Give a lot of thought to whether the client is really a bad client or just a very challenging client. If they seem overly demanding, for example, maybe a meeting to go over your concerns will help resolve any problems. 

Deal with it Early

Attempt to deal with the problems early on when they first occur. Document them as they occur.

Fulfill Any Agreements

Make sure to fulfill any agreements. You want to ensure you’re acting honorably, even if your client isn’t. Remember, your reputation is always at stake in every decision you make and action you take.

Have the right firing messaging and tone 

If at all possible, do the firing in-person or on the telephone. Avoid using impersonal media such as email, Slack, or text. Do everything in your power to avoid looking like a bad guy. Avoid name-calling and value judgments. Never engage in a personal attack. Even if you’re dealing with a horrible client who has engaged in unethical business practices, for example, avoid lowering yourself to their level. Make sure to act with integrity, dignity, and respect.

Once you make the decision to terminate the relationship, use clear language. Remember the wisdom of Meryl Runion, “Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don’t be mean when you say it.”

Give specific reasons why you’re terminating the relationship. If you’ve made the decision to terminate, don’t allow any room for reconsidering.

Here’s an example of what you might say:

“Justin, our business relationships are important to us. To be successful, they must include good two-way communication. Our repeated attempts to get answers to questions have not gotten responses. This has been ongoing for the past year. It’s been a source of great frustration for our team and projects have been stalled due to the lack of communication. We feel like it’s no longer a good fit and we’re not going to be able to work with you after June 30. We recommend that you consider working with Senoqa, Incorporated. We’ll be happy to provide you or them with appropriate documentation to aid in the transition. We thank you for your past business and wish you success going forward.”

Involve the MSP’s Executive Team

The act of firing bad customers should usually be handled by the MSP’s executive team. Certainly, they should be involved in the decision to end the business relationship.

Recommend Other Providers

Unless your client has been dishonest or otherwise unethical, make recommendations for another provider to take your place.

Firing a client is a last resort, when nothing else has worked. Make sure it’s the right decision before taking action. When you do decide to fire a client, make sure to fulfill any obligations, hold yourself to high standards of dignity, respect, and integrity, and offer a recommendation to another provider.

Next Level Customer Service Training

Enroll your team now in Compassionate Geek IT online customer service training so they can work together, get things done, and take care of customers.

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