The Customer Break Up: Why Saying No Can Be A Good Thing by @alleecreative

Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

by Melissa Harrison | Featured Contributor

Your customers are not always right

There, I said it.

And here’s the other thing: You don’t have to let yourself be treated with disrespect or be treated unfairly. Humans, in general, need to be accountable for their actions and provide common courtesy to one another. The same is true in business.

Recently, I found myself in a difficult situation. I was working with a client who was continuously taking advantage of the scope of our working relationship and as such, I was getting crabby about the entire situation. At one point, during a meeting, the client stated, “It doesn’t matter; I’m your client. I’m right.”

Now, if there had been something I was doing wrong or something that wasn’t being fulfilled per the contract agreement, of course I would step up to my end of the deal. In this case, however, the client was trying to push me as far as I would go to give in to additional demands while treating me with a lot of disrespect.

I wasn’t having any of it.

Saying no

For a moment, it was difficult for me to think about where I wanted to go next with the situation. Should I hang on and provide the client with whatever was asked of me? Did I terminate the contract immediately and wash my hands of all of it? And of course as a business owner, my mind jumps to the monetary implications–will we be OK if we let this client go?

In the end, the client and I came to a mutual agreement; a termination of our working agreement with some deliverables that would be complete before the official end date. And after that agreement was made, this wave of stress seemed to leap off my shoulders.

I stood up, I said “no,” and I felt good about it. The customer break up really wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. And in the end, it was probably what was best for both of us.

In business, there will be times you find yourself in difficult situations. Change is OK. Saying “no” is OK. And most importantly, doing what makes you feel good is the best decision. We are all human and we all need to be surrounded with people, projects and activities that make us feel good. Not everyone is going to be compatible with you, your business or your personality–and that’s OK–even if that means saying goodbye to something (or someone) you’ve been accustomed to.

Sometimes it’s a leap of faith that scares us completely. But you know what? In the end, it will all work out. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even in difficult business situations.

I’m interested in your thoughts. Have you experienced something similar? Have you ever been a part of the client break up? How did you handle yourself in the situation and how did you feel after it was all said and done?


Melissa Harrison – Marketing and Small Business Executive from Allee Creative, Twin Cities, MN

MelissaMelissa Harrison , CEO and founder of Allee Creative, LLC , has more than 13 years of experience in content management, marketing strategy and branding, working with small to mid-sized businesses to build strategic online content and traditional marketing strategies.

Listed as one of the “Top 36 Content Marketers Who Rock” by TopRank and Content Marketing Institute, Melissa believes that businesses must adapt to what customers want, which includes using social media and creative online content to provide relevant, consistent information, in order to survive. It is no longer business as usual and only the companies that strive to embrace change will remain relevant.

Melissa is also a four-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award and a national speaker on the topics of branding, content marketing, marketing strategy and social media. Melissa is also certified by Google Analytics Academy in Digital Analytics Fundamentals.

In addition to her professional life, Melissa is a mother of four, a certified fitness instructor an avid reader. If you look up “insane multi-tasker” in the dictionary you’ll most definitely find her picture. Melissa is forever pushing the envelope, starting her company when she was pregnant with her second child at the young age of 27 years old. Named a “Mover & Shaker” by the Star Tribune, she’s fought with the “big boys” for her spot at the table and continues to challenge herself each day.

For more information and to connect with Melissa, give her a shout on Twitter, LinkedIn;  or check out the Allee Facebook page.

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4 Replies to “The Customer Break Up: Why Saying No Can Be A Good Thing by @alleecreative”

  1. Sara

    That’s great to hear that I’m not alone. I said no to a client today, for the first time in 5 years of operation. Some requests are simply not reasonable, and when i said no my client said they’d have to talk to HO (I’m a franchisee), to which i agreed he should, as HO should may be able to better serve him (through offering new services), rather than give in to his demands. I feel more empowered than ever before.

    1. Melissa Harrison[ Post Author ]

      Good for you, Sara! Yes, saying no can be hard, but sometimes it really is what is best for everyone…and like you said, empowering.

  2. Larry Preston


    I’ve let some customers go over the years, and every case, it was the right move. I’ve never done it flippantly, and I’ve always evaluated what we could have done better.

    But the fact is there are just some people you cannot make happy, and they suck the life right out of you and your business.

    It’s also a tough lesson for business owners to learn that your best clients are not decided by money alone.

    “It doesn’t matter, I’m you’re client, I’m right” (which I have heard myself with a slight variation) is an indication that the client did not view you with any respect, and they likely never would have. Doesn’t that also feel a little like you just got called a whore as well? In what universe is that acceptable?

    The amount of clients I’ve walked away from is extremely low. In each case I just let them know that we could not meet their expectations and gave them a list of some of my competitors who could help them out. In one case it was meet with silence; in one case it wast met with “How dare you!”.

    But in all cases, moving on from them created a door for the next really smart, engaged & awesome clients to walk through and that makes all the difference in the world.

    1. Melissa Harrison

      Thanks, Larry. I agree, sometimes it’s a hard lesson to learn, but such a good one. I love your point about the best customers not being determined by money alone; that is the truth!

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