I’m troubled when anyone really complains about their customers. I am mortified when that person occupies a leadership role. A fish rots from the head, and rot it will.
When a prospect presents you with a challenging business problem or a need that is difficult to serve, you see it as an opportunity to create value and win business. In fact, you seek out these issues as a way to help make the case for change.
But once the prospect becomes a client, their demands are perceived very differently by some. I’ve heard clients described as “needy,” “high maintenance,” and “a complete and total pain in the ass” for requiring something new, something different, or something difficult.
I’ve heard leaders say, “If it wasn’t for customers and employees, business would be great.”
There is no doubt that serving your clients is challenging. There is no doubt that some of them are truly more needy than they should be, seriously high maintenance, and some are a complete pain. There are some client contacts who are adversarial and occupy the wrong end of the maturity continuum.
It’s a mathematical certainty that your clients will change their minds, change what they need, and make difficult and unreasonable demands. As long as you have clients, you will be faced with these challenges and more.
But how you feel about these challenges matters a great deal, especially if you are in leadership. Your neediest and most high maintenance clients are very often your best references, especially if you invest time in the relationship. The clients who have new needs are fertile ground for figuring out how to deliver something new and different to your other clients and your dream clients. Have you ever done something different to serve a client and then immediately presented it to another client only to be praised for being proactive? If you haven’t, try it now.
If you are in a leadership role, your employees will share your feelings about your clients. They will look to you for how to define the challenges they face in serving them. If you have negative feelings about your customers, believing that they are the problem, you will soon be be faced with the problem of no longer having them.