How to Be a Bossy-Pants with Your Customers

It’s a great time to be a customer.

CustomerThink, an online business community devoted to customer-centric enterprise, has called these organizations the world’s three most customer-centric companies.

Businesses compete fiercely for your business – and when they get you on board, they do all they can to keep you happy. Or at least the best companies do.

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It’s easy to see how we customers could get demanding, even downright bossy, with the brands we buy from. It’s probably why when you search for help managing bossy clients, you get over two million results.

Search Results – How to Manage Customers

However, the reality is that we also want to be bossed around sometimes. Yes, even when we are the customer. And especially when we have hired or bought from a business because we view them as the experts in their field, the source of trusted intel.

3 Situations Where Your Client Needs a Bossy-Pants

#1. They have hired you to deliver a professional service.

This is the most obvious situation where taking a boss-like role makes sense. Your client has come to you for your financial, business, legal, or marketing advice. Or they've hired you for your landscaping, interior design, wardrobe consulting or hair styling expertise.

It is surprising, though, how uncomfortable many professional service providers are with taking a leadership role with clients. Maybe it's because we live in such a customer-centric culture, where the client is always right, where we need to provide exceptional service and keep our opinions to ourselves.

We may think it’s easier and smarter to just do what our client wants, to take orders and deliver what was requested. And some clients may seem okay with that approach.

But your best engagements will happen when you take the lead, when you guide your clients through a process that shows your expertise, highlights your value and incorporates their goals and vision.

There is a difference between managing your client and leading them. As a professional service provider, your job is to be a little bossy.

#2. They are making a bad decision.

Customers make bad decisions all the time, as consumers buying household products and as professionals making business purchases. If you are the company they're working with, you have the power to prevent a poor outcome…and to create a loyal follower.

Sometimes it can be as simple as asking the right question. “Did you know we are offering a buy one-get one promotion right now? You can grab another T-shirt at no cost.” Or “I am wondering if this is the best service package for you? Given that your business is still in start-up mode, you may be just fine with a more basic offering.”

Whether you are face to face at a check-out counter, meeting in a conference room, or transacting business online, you have the power to help your customers make better buying decisions. And AI Is going to continue to transform this process—in B2C and B2B scenarios—by giving businesses more and more key insights into their customers' buying patterns.

Keep in mind, though, that clients will get suspicious quickly if all your suggestions cost them more. Make sure your advice is truly in their best interest, and sometimes that means saving them some money.

#3. They are not holding up their end of the bargain.

Your client pays you money for a product or service. They pay, you deliver, right? Simply put, yes, but in many situations, your client has responsibilities too. And if they fail to meet them, it may be time to be a little bossy.

If your clients are breaking rules or being rude in your retail establishment or your online channels, you must speak up and address the behavior. If they are mistreating or harassing your employees, you must also step in and share your expectations.

Rude Customers GIF

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There are also times when very nice, pleasant clients fail to deliver on their promises to the engagement. Maybe they have agreed to furnish certain information so you can do your job, or they have committed to participate in regular meetings or check-ins. If they flake on these agreements, then you cannot serve them well. And you need to tell them.

It can be uncomfortable to call out a client when they are behaving badly. But the right clients will respect you for it and will respond well.

Being bossy with your clients is not about being a bully. It’s about taking the lead with insights and advice, making recommendations to guide their buying, and pushing back when needed. Do those things and it will not be just a great time to be a customer. It will be a great time to serve a customer, too.

Interested in learning more about managing relationships with your customers. Check out our free resource: The Ultimate Guide to Harnessing the Power of Customer Success!

The Ultimate Guide to Harnessing the Power of Customer Success

Maureen Condon | PMG Principal
About the Author
Maureen Condon, PMG Principal

Before Maureen Condon became one of the Principals of PMG in 2006, she was a writer and a business owner – which explains why she specializes in content marketing and strategy. Covering topics that will help businesses get real, measured results from marketing – success you can see in numbers – Maureen likes to back companies in their efforts to create a strategy, a compelling message, and programs that connect with prospects, clients and influencers in ways that drive sales. And she does so, with panache!