::this post ID is 4191::::in categories of ..Ask the Expert....Franchise ABCs..::

Ask the Experts: Dealing With unreasonable customers

Car mechanic with attractive but angry female customer going through maintenance checklist in garage - apparently the efforts are overpriced since the woman is screaming at the mechanic.By Marc Gordon

Q: Why are some customers unreasonable when the time comes to pay their bill?

A: Services are not as easy to relate to a specific cost as a tangible item is. If one widget costs $10, two will cost $20—but services are abstract and no two may be alike, resulting in the perception of value to be subjective. A house painter who charges $100 an hour, for example, is not necessarily twice as good as another who charges $50 an hour—but could, on the other hand, be three times better.

Customers can find this concept difficult to grasp when buying services. It can also prove challenging for franchisees trying to market their business. They may be questioned about the quality of their work. Some customers may ask for more work to be done, but refuse to pay extra. And other customers are just always unhappy, no matter what.

Q: How can these situations be prevented?

A: The process starts with the proposal or estimate, which lays the groundwork for the entire franchisee/customer relationship. Expectations, responsibilities, obligations, warranties and after-sales services all need to be detailed and explained.

It amazes me how many service providers—both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C)—do not spell out these conditions. A detailed proposal not only protects both parties should disagreements arise, but also serves as a marketing tool by showing how attentive and detail-oriented your company is.

Communication throughout the service process is also crucial. Checking in often will help, should unexpected delays or budget changes arise. Customers who receive communications tend to be more understanding and accepting.

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