In the Trenches: How to Turn Customers Away

by Brett Snyder

1 min read

It’s not often that we want to discourage someone from using our service at Cranky Concierge, but it does happen on occasion. The hard part is figuring out when to make that call and how to handle it once the decision has been made.

Last week, we ended up in this exactly spot. We had a client looking to purchase flights, and we ended up going back and forth on options for several days. When I say “back and forth,” I mean it. The thread grew to more than 75 emails very quickly. While there was a language barrier that made it a bit tougher, it was clear that this just wasn’t going to end up great for anyone.

This was a simple trip, and we ended up suggesting that the client might have better luck with an online travel agent in the client’s native language. We even gave some links, trying to be as helpful as possible without causing offense.

This was a fairly easy solution, and in the end, it was better for both of us. But what about those clients who might not feel the same way? On rare occasions, we’ve run into clients who we didn’t think we could help — but the clients felt otherwise. We’ve politely turned people away only to have them effectively refuse! Sometimes we’ve caved, and tried to help even though we knew it wouldn’t end well. Other times, we’ve pushed back harder, depending upon the situation.

These situations always make me uncomfortable. As a business owner, I hate the idea of turning away revenue. But for a variety of reasons (difficult client, our inability to do what they want, and so on) it is sometimes the right thing to do. I just don’t always know exactly where to draw that line.

How do you decide when to turn customers away? And how do you let them know?

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