Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

April 7th, 2011

Why You Should Love Challenging Customers

challenging cms

Author and speaker Jeff Korhan discusses why you should find those customers you would usually say no to.

Most businesses have three type of customers:

  1. The Majority in the Middle
  2. Lower Echelon Challenging
  3. Upper Echelon Challenging

The Majority in the Middle

This is the customer that most businesses love.  They have reasonable expectations.  They require very little handling, and they pay their bills on time.  This is also why it is easy to take these customer for granted.  Don’t.

Use technology, and especially the social networks to occasionally reach out to these customers to let them know how much you appreciate their business.  Thank them for their loyalty.  I believe there are very few customers that get tired of hearing the words: “Thank You For Your Business.”

Lower Echelon Challenging

We all have prospects, and sometimes customers, who are always asking for more but are not willing to pay for it.  They have unreasonable expectations.  I’ve found that taking the time to explain your process and how you work will resolve most of these differences.

This is one advantage of a blog or professional Facebook page. Use social media to tell your story through the experiences of your clients.  Your satisfied customers in that middle majority have credibility that will likely resonate with other prospects and customers like them.

You’ve basically got two choices with the lower echelon challenging customer:  Work with them to moderate their expectations and move them into the majority, or attempt to move them into the upper echelon group that expects your very best.

Upper Echelon Challenging

The upper echelon customer or client wants to be first.  They want what is new or better, or to otherwise receive special treatment.  The novice may make the mistake of firing them, when in fact they are often the best customer you can have.

While they may be challenging, the fact that they are willing to pay the freight makes them an upper echelon customer.  As a small business owner, this a customer that deserves your full attention. Why? Because they make you better.

A Business Trend

Customers that expect more are a competitive advantage. They force you to raise the bar, to take a closer look at what is possible.  Expectations are one thing, and possibilities are another.  Possibilities are what you and your competitors have not yet considered.

It’s easy to love that 80% majority in the middle that make your small business life easy.  All you have to do is mobilize, execute, and then sit back and count your profits.  If this is your approach today you should be watching your back, because there are a lot of hungry newcomers out there.  Among other things, they are using technology to change the game.

I am often asked by some of my friends and colleagues why I offer to do extra work for no charge. Let’s just say that I have a business model that is based upon working to the level of those upper echelon challenging customers.

Not everyone is willing to do more - I am.  And that may explain why my speaking calendar, for the most part, is full. You can measure yourself by generally expected standards - or you can raise the bar. It’s really simple math.  You have to be willing to do more to get more.

What I am seeing these days is that many of my new clients are asking for more.  I believe this is a trend.  If you are not prepared for this, you may see them as a problem customer, when in fact they are giving you a gift - one that will make you and your business stronger.

Don’t confuse expectations with possibilities, especially if you have the capabilities to do more - as most of us do.


This article originally appeared on Jeff’s blog, which can be found at

About the Author

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan is a new media marketer, an award-winning entrepreneur, and a top-ranked blogger who helps entrepreneurs and small business owners maximize their Web visibility, reputation, and referrals with social media and Internet marketing.


Jeff began his career as a Fortune 50 Sales and Marketing Manager with an MBA. He later started and operated a landscape company that was twice named Business of the Year in one of the fastest growing communities in the United States. After 20 successful years he sold his business, and now applies three decades of marketing experience to help clients develop sustainable marketing practices that capitalize on emerging small business trends.

Jeff maintains a busy schedule speaking and consulting on the topics of social media marketing, relationship selling, and entrepreneurship trends. He is a social media columnist for GIE Media, a frequent guest blogger, and a recognized expert in the green industry, where he has served on several association boards. Jeff's New Media and Small Business Marketing blog was recently ranked by Technorati as a Top 100 Small Business Blog.




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