Bad clients: what can you do with them?

Content Strategist and Editor
Updated 17 January, 2024
Kos Morris
Content Strategist and Editor
Reading time — 6 minutes

Sadly, no clientele is perfect. Sooner or later you will have to deal with bad customers. And the dangers they represent vary from a minor nuisance to unwanted costs and monetary losses. Our guide will help you neutralize them with ease and grace.

Bad clients - who are they?

Bad customers are the mean, toxic and shady baddies. Naughty and whimsical. Dishonest and conniving. Ill-disciplined and backbiting. This tag list can go for miles in all honesty.

Every business has to deal with them. And yours is no exception. So what damage can they possibly deal with? What are the repercussions of evil that they bring with them?

Well, how about:

  • Wasted time. Empty promises, unrealistic projects or ridiculous complaints. Like leeches, they will suck energy from your work team or customer support. And since time is money, you can calculate your possible losses yourself.
  • Damaged reputation. Yelp, Zomato, OpenTable and other similar platforms are a serious weapon. Especially when wielded by inadequate clients. Even if your reputation is 100% good, a single fly in the ointment can decrease the customer flow. 94% of buyers prefer avoiding brands with bad reviews.
  • Tired staff. Your soldiers will be exhausted from dealing with pesky clientele. Poorly formulated requests, unjustified complaints — this will decrease their firepower. Stress leads to unhappy employees. Unhappy employees = more unhappy customers.
These are three mishaps that can seriously sabotage your company's success. But it's just a tip of an iceberg. Each one of them has even more hidden traps!

How about losing future customers? Or ruining a lucrative contract because your people were busy satisfying a mean client and couldn't stick to the deadline?

Yes, you need to oust worthless clients asap. Until they do some serious damage. But before you can do this, you need to know your enemy. Let's see which bad customer types exist these days.

Bad clients — classification

Okay, let's review which customers you should avoid at all costs. No matter on social media or in reality. To make things easier, we've prepared a classification that most market researchers and PR specialists agree with.

1. Awkward greenhorns

This is a type best known to freelancers of all sorts. That client wants everything. Right now and right here. That client has grandiose ideas and revolutionary vision. That client can be quite sweet and friendly. Sadly, he or she doesn't really know what they want.

As a specialist, you may think that it's no big deal. You'll offer a clever solution that will be met with praise, cheers and bombastic fanfares. In reality, the clueless customer will question or ignore your expertise. Especially, if it requires some extra investments.

A customer who knows not what they are doing is like a ticking bomb. When it's time to make a decision — they procrastinate. They think there must be some free and magic alternative to what you offer like a pro. And when it's time for a disappointing finale — zero sales growth, no new followers on Instagram — they may show their claws.

Possible consequences: Bad reviews. Negative or libelous comments.

2. Con artist

The most peculiar type, these guys pretend to be business gurus. Visionaries, startup wizards, and geniuses. They masquerade themselves as the next big thing in the industry. And you must be honored that you've been selected for their project... 

In reality, you're dealing with a false messiah. A scammer who is:

  1. Too greedy to pay for your services.
  2. Too broke to even afford them.

Unless you are 100% sure that a startup has real potential and you get a fair share, then it's fine. After all, business is risky. But if the conman feeds you vague promises, tries to manipulate your emotions and refuses to pay upfront — put him on the ignore list. Flattery doesn't pay your bills.

Possible consequences: No paycheck. Wasted time. Lawsuits.

3. Thief

Quite a crappy type. Just like con artists, they show no fervor to pay for your services or product adequately. Often they'll insist you show what you got first: free trial, samples, etc. With no promise of financial compensation, of course.

In reality, they'll show an awful behavior by stealing your time, labor, and ideas. Or they'll over abuse your hospitality. And when it's time to sign a contract — adios! They'll flee with your intellectual property and fruits of your labor in their grabby hands.

Possible consequences: Stolen ideas. Wasted time. Unpaid work.

4. Unreliable

With that client, you can forget about personal time. They will schedule brainstorms, meetings or group chats and... Never show up. Such a feather-minded beast sabotages one meeting after another. And there will always be a solid excuse for that.

Such unreliable customers can pay you a sweet dollar. But you'll never achieve any results with them. Your team may get stalled. Your resume won't expand. Your time will be wasted. And due to regular delays, you can forget about private life or other projects.

Possible consequences: No development. Stress. No private time.

5. Miser

Possibly, the worst of the worst. Misers will always find some fault about the stuff you sell or the services you provide. They'll bombard your client support with complaints. There will be countless requests to change this or that. Scandals, threats and badmouthing are a free bonus.

Misers bring losses that exceed the profit they produce. They abuse and bully your staff. And as a cherry on top, they act like terrorists. If you hear someone promising bad reviews on Yelp — though you’re sure doing a pretty good job — you're dealing with a textbook Miser.

Possible consequences: Stressed employees. Time & money lost. Undeserved bad comments.

Neutralizing the threat

So, now you know which bad boys you may encounter. But what you gonna do when they come for you? Well, there are different tactics. Let's see.

1. Be organized

If you're doing your biz on Instagram, you know that this platform allows adding one external link only. The same is when you want to add a link to your TikTok bio. This makes you choose what link to add. And it is not relevant to potentially good customers, the customers can get grumpy. Why on earth do they have to waste time, trying to find a way to contact customer support?

A service like Taplink will solve that issue. Once and for all. It's a link in bio tool that allows you to build a page for your bio. You can create a WhatsApp link or other chat links to make communication with you easy for customers. Simplicity = success.

2.Slacking off

To get rid of a Miser, you can minimize your service efforts. These customers feed on your attention and nerves. Let them see that the feast is over.

3. Good riddance

Another way to oust pesky clients is to recommend them your rivals. Unreliable or always unsatisfied customers can be redirected to a more expensive competitor. They'll either stop their buffoonery or stay with your rival, which is a win-win situation.

4. Contract

Always insist on signing it if you're asked to contribute your product, ideas or work to some sort of project. This will protect you from probable Con artists and Thieves who specialize in nicking ideas or parasitizing your talents. The contract must state who, when and how much will pay you.

5. Strike back

If a bad customer blackmails you with a bad Yelp review —fight back. As a recent incident at Boston's restaurant Alden & Harlow showed, yelpers aren't almighty.

After the two inadequate visitors repeatedly insulted the staff and threatened the restaurant with a crappy review, its owner Michael Scelfo decided to put an end to this madness. He personally documented their outrageous behavior and posted it on Instagram.

Unsurprisingly, people supported the chef. His story, in which he calls the staff 'his family' and also shows a photo of these 'smug-looking' customers earned a few thousand likes. As you can see, if the truth is on your side, a libelous Yelp comment can backfire. And you'll be advertised for free.

No more Mr. Bad Guy

Now you know how to identify and neutralize a bad customer. Don't be discouraged if you encounter any. Instead, kill them with kindness. Disarm them with politeness. And outsmart them with a few working tactics we showed you.

Follow our tips, share this article and top of the luck to you.