The Rise of the Bad Customer

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Marketers have two ways(at least) of grading potential customers:

  1. How interested are they in us? Arrived at by activity exhibited by the prospect, namely:
  • What pages on our website have they viewed
  • What events have the attended
  • Number of email opens/forwards/responses
  • Whitepaper, e-books downloads or video watched
  • Where did they hear about us
  • Phone calls
  • No Opt out
  1. How interested are we in them? Arrived at by characteristics of the prospect:
  • Industry, size, revenue, Geography
  • Job titles of people interacting
  • Known Competitor info
  • RFI/RFP issued
  • Existing/Previous contact
  • Timescale, Budget, Compelling event

Together, these two grades/scores determine if and when a prospect is considered ‘Sales Ready’.  Please note that completion of a Contact Us from does not on it’s own constitute Sales readiness.

One significant grade that is not captured here is the ‘will they be a good or bad customer’, with most companies due diligence limited to a Financial Health-check.

But even existing Customers aren’t always the one’s a company wants. In the construction industry, sites such as and‎ abound with positive reviews and there are many social media sites that carry negative reviews for companies and service providers. and make the majority of their revenues from these kinds of ratings.

Yet, does any trades person, company or service provider believe all of their customers are desirable?

The inexorable rise of Consumer Power and the proselytization of “The Customer is always right” has led to sole-traders, companies and service providers ignoring ‘bad’ customers.

Bad customers come in all sizes and can do great harm to brands and reputations as well as cause remedial spend and asset/revenue loss. In most UK supermarkets, signs display the intention to prosecute shoplifters. But what if an offender steals a £20 price item and habitually spends over £100/week in the store? Whilst there may be a moral dilemma in the case outlined above, but there are issues in other industries:

  • No fault returns (even though it’s obvious the products have been used – as with wedding outfits returned as wrong size, but full of confetti)
  • Refusal to pay (restaurants, taxi fares, trades people) on the grounds of dissatisfaction with the service.
  • No shows for appointments (hairdressers, NHS, estate agents)
  • Late/Non payment
  • Demanding goods and services beyond entitlement
  • Deliberate damaging of reputation

It would be a brave person who suggested a database of bad customers – no matter how legitimate. But there are ways you can identify bad customers in your own business/industry. The first step is knowing where to look and for what?

If you would like to know more about this topic please contact us