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Disgruntled Customer Threatening to Leave a Bad Review? Let Them.

You know the saying "The customer is always right"? Well, sometimes, customers also have unrealistic expectations, or they're rude to your team, or they have a sense of entitlement beyond reason.

And even though these customers are few and far between, they also know they hold a powerful weapon and they're not afraid to use it. They'll threaten you with bad reviews until you bend over backwards to try to please them.

The secret to dealing with it? Instead of panicking and trying to achieve the impossible, let them leave that bad review. It might just turn out to be good for business.

Bad reviews aren't the end of the world

Yes, 77% of people read online reviews regularly. Yes, reviews have a significant impact on your business' reputation. Ideally, you'd avoid one-star reviews at all costs. However, letting an unreasonable customer walk all over you won't do you any good in the long run.

By giving into unreasonable demands under threat of a bad review, you're putting your employees in an awkward position. The customer who threatened you now feels emboldened, which often leads to more demands, which usually leaves your team frustrated and demoralized.

Apart from that, the more time your team spends dealing with a customer who can't be pleased, the less time they have to focus on interactions that actually have the potential to make a difference. The truth is, whatever you do, you can't make every single customer happy - and that's fine. What isn't is setting your team up for failure by not knowing when to draw the line.

Signs you're dealing with a customer that can't be pleased

Since customers are just people, they usually come in a mix of good and bad. And while you can come to an agreement with most people, there are few who will try to get their way by all means necessary.

Customers from hell happen to businesses of all sizes and across industries, but they all have a few things in common. If you spot any of the following warning signs, there's probably nothing you can do to make them happy.

1. They're trying to avoid signing a contract

There's no bigger red flag than a client trying to get out of signing a contract. At the end of the day, a contract is there to protect both them and you.

The question isn't whether or not you'll lose the job if you insist on them signing one. It's what they're going to try to pull if you do go ahead without a contract.

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2. They don't know what they want, but it's not whatever it is you're doing

You've spent hours brainstorming ideas, creating mock-ups, and presenting them to your client. Their response? Utter confusion. It's as if they don't have a clue what they want, but somehow everything you're doing is just not right.

You try to dig deeper, asking questions to better understand their vision. But instead of providing clarity, their feedback becomes even more vague and contradictory. One moment they want something bold and edgy, the next, they'd prefer something elegant and understated.

Soon enough, you find yourself second-guessing every decision, afraid that whatever you do will never be good enough for them. This kind of customer can be incredibly frustrating because you can't deliver what they're looking for if they don't know what they're looking for. It's like trying to hit a moving target blindfolded.

3. They expect freebies

You know the ones - they believe that just because they're paying for a product or service, they should automatically receive extra perks or additional items at no cost. Or they agree on the scope of work and then try to squeeze in last-minute additions that "shouldn't take you that much more time".

bad online review owner response

4. They try to haggle

There's a fine line between negotiation and pushing boundaries. Here, we're not talking about those customers who politely try to negotiate the price to get a deal. We're talking about the ones who consistently try to lower the price after you've already reached an agreement.

They come up with various reasons why they believe they deserve a discount or special treatment. They constantly compare you to competitors in an attempt to get as much work done for the lowest price possible. As you try to explain your reasoning and stick to the agreed-upon terms, you start wondering if going forward is even worth it.

5. They have impossible demands

They expect overnight results from a campaign or want to be the first company that pops up when you Google "sneakers". You know the expectation is unrealistic from the get-go, but they won't budge.

6. They refuse to listen, then blame you when things go wrong

It's like talking to a brick wall. You try to explain why something won't work or why another approach would be better, but they dismiss your input without even considering it.

Then, when you do exactly what they asked for and it doesn't work, it becomes your fault for not stopping them in the first place. Besides showing you they don't value your expertise, they've now also made you frustrated. Even worse, you now have to spend even more time doing everything all over again the way you intended to in the first place.

7. They expect a response outside of working hours

Some customers simply don't understand the concept of working hours and expect you to be available 24/7. They want you to dedicate all of your time working on their project. And if you could also rearrange your sleep schedule in a way that works for them, that'd be great.

8. They insult you

Whether it's a mock-up they don't particularly like or a darker shade of blue than they hoped for, the nicest thing they'll say to you is "Seems to me like you don't know what you're doing". And that's if you're lucky enough not to come across a difficult client with a colorful dictionary.

9. They threaten you

Anybody resorting to intimidation tactics probably isn't a person you'd want to deal with. Whether it's threatening to go to a competitor if they don't get what they want, when they want it, and at the price they want or threatening to leave a bad review online, let them. Keep your peace of mind and focus on the clients you love working with instead.

bad online review response better proposals

Use their bad reviews and make them good for business

While none of these clients are good for business, their bad reviews might be. Instead of looking at them as a stain on your reputation, use the same platform as them to set the record straight.

Review sites let you respond to customer complaints, so why not tell the story from your own perspective? Potential customers you want to attract will most likely agree with you, and it will also serve as a deterrent to those who planned on being difficult. It's a win-win situation.

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Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.