I don't know if I should say this surprises me or not, but I am constantly shocked when I see business owners treat poorly their own clients. What I've come to realize is that these business owners are either too "green" to know better or just don't get that poor treatment of one leads to a bad reputation with others. As important and referrals are to new business, the converse applies to bad customer service. The old "and he told two friends and so on and so forth" goes -- and in a culture that gets caught up in gossip and negativity, that kind of reputation can easily do harm to your bottom line. So, here are three things you should never say or do to a client.
I can't make your deadline because of my vacation. We all need vacations absolutely. Time off is important to re-charge your batteries and prevent burnout. No one will begrudge you time off; however, if you missed a deadline or failed to make appropriate progress on a project, best to keep your vacation plans to yourself. Don't tell a client you're going to push their deadline so you can go sun bathe on Big Beach -- and especially don't tell a client about your plans to snorkel when you just pressured him/her for an early payment so you could do so and then put off his/her project. Just give them a reasonable deadline and then deliver. Don't explain what you'll be doing -- other than their project -- in between.
I have soccer games on Mondays, the gym on Tuesdays, and girl's night out on Fridays, so I don't have much time to work on your project. Another error on the scale of don't do it. Do not give a client your personal itinerary of excuses as to why you can't make a deadline because your schedule is too crowded with extracurricular activities. Your client doesn't give a flying pig what you do all week. All your client cares about is getting what he/she paid for. You promised services, you deliver what you promised -- especially if you were pre-paid. What you have on your schedule doesn't mean bumpkus to your clients. So, keep your personal life and plans personal.
You're a pain in my a@@ aka as push-back. Don't ever let clients see you sweat, get irritated or throw darts at their pictures. Yes, some clients can make life difficult but that's not excuse to tell them off. Keep calm, cool and focused. If you don't like the client and don't wish to work with them, then don't renew their contract. It's true some clients can be a real challenge and suck your time. Finish what you agreed to do and move on. Always be courteous and polite, so at the end of the relationship, they can't run around town and disparage your company.