How to Deal with the 'Bully' ClientBully clients think if they push their weight around, they’ll get what they want. Sometimes it works because small businesses don't know how to handle them. But, when you let a customer bully you, you’ve lost their respect and set yourself up for a relationship of further abuse.

“Unfair customers scream at airline, hospitality, and event personnel routinely,” says Baron Christopher Brown in an article on SmartBrief on Leadership. Bullies cross the line and bully your business model. “When their cash and time become desperate, some customers (clients, patrons, or members) can transact irrationally, even awfully.”

Bullying customers are dishonest and verbally abusive, but customers with high-expectations know what they want.

It’s important to know the difference because while bullies don’t pay well, high-expectations customers do. Plus, they are generally honest and civil.

“In my view, honest, courteous and well-paying customers are always right. Deceitful, manipulative fiscally bullying customers are always wrong,” says Brown.

So how do you deal with these bullies? Brown provides some advice.

Tips to Deal with Bully Clients

Confront Deficiencies

Brown suggests business owners confront four transactional deficiencies:

  • Poor prospect negotiation and customer queuing
  • Lack of written transactional policies and guidelines upfront
  • Weak or inexperienced front-line employees incapable of maintaining transactional boundaries (lion taming)
  • Zero legal, accounting, or business strategy counsel in place.

What may entice a bully is a combination of perceived weaknesses of a business and evadable transaction policies.

“In my experience, chaotic, sloppy, unprofitable organizations routinely exude evidence of multiple transactional deficiencies simultaneously,” says Brown.

Create a Strategy

Once you've identified the deficiencies and established you aren't a punching bag, create new transaction strategies and proficiencies. Make sure you have a transactional policy and guidelines in place. Also, put legal, accounting, and business strategies in place.

Realize your strengths and ask yourself why you do things a certain way. If it’s because it’s always been done that way, it’s time to reassess the task at hand. You need to have  concrete reasons for doing things a certain way. That  makes it easier to say no to customers who try to pressure you to change your business.

Communicate and Implement the Strategy

A strategy isn't any good, and won't be successful if it’s not communicated to those who will implement it: Your employees. Train your front-line employees to maintain the boundaries you set.

When a company stands up for itself as a team, bully clients either disappear or change their ways. Confrontation isn't fun, but when you stand up to bullies, you make sure your business stays on course. Don't let your plans get pushed around by people who don’t have your best interests in mind.

Have you had an ongoing bully client? How did you handle it?