If you had told me years ago that this lifetime is made up of several journeys, I probably would have laughed you out of the ball park.

The thing is, we do go on several journeys. Some of these journeys that we go on are personal and some are business or even work and/or professional. Some we take on our own and others we share with husbands, wives, lovers, children, friends, clients, colleagues and even business partners.

There are journeys that are long and arduous or lifetime journeys and others that are short term, perhaps for a specific period, for a specific project or customer or even a special friend. Each journey has its own starting place and its own ending place. Some you may even start alone and then pick up some passengers along the way. Some you may start with a whole bunch of people but end on your own.

Each journey is its own unique experience. Each experience may be similar but all are quite different. Some are pleasant and fun and some are just disgusting and we can’t wait for them to end.

Think about it for a moment – we would all like to think that we give all our customers great service and perhaps we do, but there is always a client that will get a little extra. A little extra care and attention, or a little extra effort, or extra time that we don’t charge for.

Let’s face it, the way we treat our customers is not always dependent upon the quality of the journey that we are taking with them. Customers who always pay on time and who don’t give us a hard time, may actually not be the customers that we ‘give’ more to and we need to be seriously very careful about this because they should be the customers that we treat as VIP guests. Difficult customers who are yelling and shouting at us all the time, who are never satisfied and who we have to battle to get money out of, are traditionally the customers that we bend over backwards for and quite frankly that’s just not right! In fact those are the customers that we should be firing, not pandering to.

I know that after writing this article I am going to do some serious evaluations on my clients. Going forward, the customers that do what I tell them to, who pay on time and who give me very little hassle are going to be treated like the Kings and Queens that they surely are, and those who give me as much grief as they are able, who don’t pay on time and who are just generally unpleasant to deal with are a) going to be charged an additional tax which I am going to call AST (Aggravation Surcharge Tax) and that is going to be dependant on how much hassle they give me, and b) I am going to keep records of who pissed me off the most and give them points for bad behaviour, bad attitude and bad payments and c) I am going to set a limit on what I am prepared to put up with and when they reach their limit, I am going to fire their asses and get myself some more decent clients!

The journey that I want to take with my clients must be one of mutual respect. It must be an amazing journey where we both profit from each other. I can think of nothing worse than having to bend over backwards for clients who do not respect me, who do not respect what I do for them and who keep demanding more and more from me and at the same time they disrespect me, by not paying me on time or always wanting more and more of a discount.

Yip – that’s what I am going to do in future! Work with ‘like minded’ people. People who respect what I do, who respect me and who value what I do for them. What about you? What kind of journey do you want to travel and have with your clients?

About the author: Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Small Business Forum

The Small Business Forum is an independent network of entrpreneurs and small business owners established to encourage and support the creation, growth and development of small business in South Africa.

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