Four identical armadillos were recently born under my house and this weekend made their first foray into our yard searching for food, unaccompanied by a parent. I hate armadillos! It is very personal. When I lived in Texas, I took great delight in eliminating their destructive hog-like behavior with a shot gun and buck shot! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a violent person by any stretch of the imagination. But, I spend way too much money and time nurturing the perfect yard with foliage and flowers that would make a nursery green with envy.

Armadillos feed on bugs, insects, roots, ants and worms. They especially like the ones that require rooting up the ground to retrieve. It might be their version of an Easter egg hunt. Our yard ends up looking like a grass track after a rambunctious horse race. Asking them to leave is not effective; they are almost deaf. Signage does not work, they are almost blind. So, how do you get rid of such a pest.

This weekend added a new twist to the frustration of watching your pride and joy uprooted in broad daylight by armadillos. As my granddaughters would say, “They are soooo cute!”

Customers can be like “baby armadillos.” They can uproot your bottom line by sweetly making demands (camouflaged as simple requests) that put the front-line in a squeeze. “I lost my ticket,” “Can I please, please get this at a discount?” or “I only have a $10.” They can coolly ask for the moon and act disappointed, even pout, if they have to hear “no.” They are the customer version of a spoiled teenager uninterested in hearing that dreaded two-letter word. Front-line employees are often trained in how to deal with the angry customer, but not the manipulative customer who can be “soooo cute.”

Be firm but fair. Listen with curiosity, empathize with feeling, demonstrate great caring, but always remain a good steward of your company’s resources. Let your customer know how much you value his or her business and (not but) you want to be fair to other customers. “I wish I could” sounds more accepting to “baby armadillo” customers than “I can’t.”

Stay clear of “rule talk”—customers are not particularly interested in your policies or rules. Remain calm, confident, and competent with a sunny disposition. And, if the customer persists in rooting up your reputation and resources, warmly suggest they find a service provider more suited to their needs.

Now, for those customers who truly love and respect your company, here’s how you can demonstrate your love for them in return.