Last month, I wrote about something a few of you considered a bit controversial… firing a customer.

How crazy is that, to get rid of someone willing to pay you money for your services? We spend time, money and much effort to build a client base, and then we iStockthink of getting rid of a few?

Truth be told, we all have a few customers on our list we wish we had never met; people who may pay our price but, at the end of the day, we know we would have been better off staying home or at the office.

It is one thing to have a customer who has a legitimate complaint (a better word might be “concern”) that we can analyze and work with; it’s another thing altogether when a customer complains for the sake of complaining. You know the type — the customer whom you can’t make happy no matter what you do.

I don’t want you anymore…

Let’s face it. Some customers are more trouble than they are worth. We all have them, the type who finds the smallest thing to complain about and make your life miserable.

One time, a customer followed me around the house, removing the blocks and tabs as I placed them under legs of furniture. I didn’t really see her doing this until I looked down the hallway and saw them piled up. I tried to reason with her about how these blocks and tabs protect the furniture and the carpet, but alas, to no avail. The inevitable occurred… a furniture stain. I got blamed for it, of course.

I fired her. Life was good again.

Do you have customers like that? I bet you do.

… but I don’t want you to tell anyone.

Those were the old days. You could fire a customer without worrying too much about backlash. Yes, those fired customers could tell a few friends, but it didn’t get very far. You were safe.

Times have changed. Now, when you upset (fire) someone, word can spread like butter on hot toast.  

I will say that this issue of firing a customer should be very rare. It shouldn’t happen that often. But when it does happen, you have to handle it delicately.

We live in a social age. Social media, that is. If you aren’t careful about how you handle your customers, their thoughts, concerns and complaints can go viral, and pretty soon, you find yourself the target in a firestorm of negativity.

So when you have to face the inevitable, think carefully about how you will handle the situation. Thinking of sending a text message about how you don’t want someone’s business any longer? Think again. What about an email? Don’t push that send button too quickly.

Your customers are people, too. Pick up the telephone, meet them in person, explain your concerns and if you have to fire one of them, do it delicately.