We build businesses. Even little ones.

We build businesses.
Even little ones.

5 Ways To Handle Your Nightmare Client, or Crazy Auntie Vera Comes To Dinner

Previously, we talked about your 5 buyer types and how each one responds differently to making repeat purchases from you. We’ve covered Amy, Bob, Carol and Daniel. But there’s one more buyer type we haven’t discussed, and that’s the one who nobody talks about… Crazy Auntie Vera.

Normally we tell you how to sell, upsell, upgrade, and cross-sell to these people.

But in Vera’s case, that is the absolute worst thing you can do. Ever.

Vera has a dysfunctional relationship with commerce.

She buys – oh, yes, she buys – but she’s really, really screwed up about it.

Vera feels she has no power. She almost definitely hates her job – she feels it’s beneath her – and the same probably applies to her spouse. Young Veras tend to be furious that their university education didn’t get them the job of their dreams. (Either that or everything would have been rosy if they’d been able to get into the university they SHOULD have gotten into, or they’d gotten that job they SHOULD have got, or… you get the idea.) Older Veras feel disrespected that their tenure or experience are overlooked.

She believes that once a commercial transaction takes place, your relationship becomes personal, and that she wears the pants.

Vera feels marginalized in her daily life, and money buys her power. You HAVE to listen to her because she gave you money. Let me be the first to tell you, honey… hell no, you don’t.

(Note: She probably won’t ask for a refund, at least not right off the bat. She wants to lecture you for a while first. This gives her a tremendous feeling of power, of being listened to. She feels she has a captive audience with you. If she were to ask for her money back right away, she wouldn’t really be able to yell at you anymore, and we can’t have that, now, can we?)

She is angry, bitter, and in pain. She feels owed in some way. She does not believe everyone is out to get her. She believes YOU are out to get her. Either that, or everyone is out to get everyone.

Vera tends to get really mad about advertising. She feels it’s all a scam. If a store she doesn’t shop at – probably one she feels she can’t justify shopping at – is having a sale, she decides marketing is evil. If her favorite store is having a sale, she’ll stock up and brag about the great deals she got.

You’ll hear her say, “You’re only paying for the name” a lot. Only about the names she doesn’t want to pay for, mind you. She’ll rage at you for buying a Mac because you’re only paying for the name, and then she’ll promptly go to Sandals on her honeymoon because it’s better.

All this cognitive dissonance makes her a little crazy, and she handles her hypocritical inner discord by lashing out. Probably at you.

Vera is hoping for a Messiah, someone she can really believe in. As such, she can be loyal to the point of a weird kind of codependency, which is one of the most dangerous and insidious aspects of a commercial relationship with her. You may not find out you have a Vera on your hands until her fifth purchase, when you inadvertently offend her and she unleashes.

When you have a once-loyal Vera on your hands, she’s not only bitter, she feels betrayed. Not fun.

Once-loyal Veras tend to come out and show their true colors when they’ve decided you’re one of the good guys and spend a lot of money with you. They’ve been going along happily buying your lower level products, and then decide it’s safe to splurge on something big. They realize that doesn’t buy them utopia and they blame you. Ouch.

The upside of Vera is the same as the downside – she is so impossibly angry and unreasonable all the time, she will eventually find someone she hates more than she hates you. Until that day, here’s what to do.

What To Do About Vera:

1. Put a note on every flat surface you can find that reads: “THIS IS NOT MY FAULT!”

The first thing you have to understand is that IT’S NOT YOU. Vera is like that whackjob ex-boyfriend you dated when you were 21. (Hi, Kevin!) Somehow, you done got yourself convinced that you were the crazy one.

You are not the crazy one.

Normal, rational people handle things in normal, rational ways. That’s all there is to it. If someone is dealing with you in a non-normal, non-rational way, you can deduce that they are non-normal and non-rational.

If they look like a duck, they’re a duck. If they look like a cat, they’re a cat. And if they look like a psycho, they’re a psycho.

Trust yourself. If every complaint you’ve ever got isn’t like this one, the common denominator is her, not you.

2. Stop trying to please her. It ain’t gonna work.

Just stop. You’re a nice person, and generally reasonable, yes? Well, acting nice and reasonable will not help you here. Following the rules of engagement doesn’t work when someone is committing acts of guerrilla warfare. Telling yourself that if you just do X or Y or Z, you might be able to achieve some kind of peaceful resolution is a waste of the perfectly good breath you could be using to say, “Barkeep! More wine, please!”

Stop. Trying. To. Please. This. Person.

If your spouse or business partner disagrees, please send them to me. I have much to say on this topic.

3. Get her off your email list. Now.

Next up, do everything in your power to make her forget you ever existed. This will silently encourage her to channel her wrath in some other poor sucker’s direction. It’s kind of like blocking someone from seeing your Facebook updates. If they don’t see you posting the pictures of your cat being adorable, they’re a lot less likely to harass you and call you a crazy cat lady.

If you use Aweber, manually unsubscribe her from everything. If you’re using newsletter software other than Aweber, there’s usually a way to unsubscribe her yourself. A lot of shopping cart software services will let you block certain purchasers by email address, as well.

Go to the help section of your newsletter or shopping cart software – today, BEFORE you need it – and find out if yours will let you do this, and how. If you can’t find it easily, get in touch with their support department. Do everything you can do to make sure you never inadvertently contact this woman again.

(I don’t know if you can manually unsubscribe a blog reader through Feedburner, but it’s worth finding out. If you know, shoot us an email and we’ll update the article.)

This is not a perfect solution, but it’s a hell of a start.

4. Consider giving a refund, even if she doesn’t ask.

Remember, redemption is either impossible, undesirable, or both. If you have admin staff, you’re paying them to pacify somebody who will not be pacified, and by making them deal with her, you’re ruining their day, over and over, for no good reason. If you do your own admin, it’s even worse. You’re trying to be nice to, and reason with, an attacker who’s out for blood.

Screw that.

As previously stated, Vera thinks she has power over you because she has given you money. If you can nullify the financial transaction before she even asks, you may be able to nullify your relationship on your own terms.

Consider sending her money back with a note that says you’re sorry she wasn’t happy with the product or service, and here’s her money back. That can take a lot of the wind out of her sails. (Note: If you do this, you MUST make the note short to the point of terseness, with NO indication that a future relationship exists. No “if there’s anything else I can do, please let me know” at the end. I’m sorry you weren’t happy. Here’s your money. End of story.)

She will generally send some kind of communication after this happens. She may bite your head off and tell you that she didn’t want her money back, she wanted you to give her what she paid for. She may act confused and tell you she never asked for her money back. She may become very contrite, because you sending the money back made her realize what a lunatic she was being.

No matter what she does, it’s no longer your problem, as you no longer have a relationship with her. Put her in your Customers From Hell folder and get on with running your company.

5. Tell your friends.

If you’re in a sphere that shares a lot of the same customers – bloggier-than-thou social media addicts, I’m looking at you – share notes! Warn your fellow ittybiz owners – privately, of course – of the Veras in your midst. Give them a heads up.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard some client from hell story that sounded so spookily familiar to me that I had to ask for names. Turns out, it’s the same client that made Julie’s or Angela’s or Mary’s life a living hell eight months ago.

Spread the word so that other ittybiz owners won’t be blindsided by it like you were. Then they’ll tell you their stories and you might not be so blindsided by it next time yourself.

Ahh, community. It warmifies my jaded little heart.

What next?

This concludes the first section of Same People, More Money. Over the next many weeks, we’re going to be releasing the remainder of the course right here on the blog, interspersed with some other stuff so you don’t hang yourself from the boredom. If you’re not already subscribed to the blog, you can do so here.

In other news, the “newsletter” we’ve been talking about for, oh, four years now, is finally here.

I know, right?

If you don’t know if you’re on the list, here’s a box for you to put your name in.

(If you think you might be on the list but you’re not sure, put your name in the box anyway. If you’re already on the list, it’ll say, “dude, you’re already on the list” and everything will be fine. And if you’re reading this via feed and you don’t see a box, click this link right here. A box will arrive through the magic of the internets.)

 

 

Now I will go and eat turkey because that’s what we do in Canada when it’s 82 degrees outside.