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November 24, 2015

How to Deal With Unhappy Customers

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles via

Unhappy customers are like the plague to entrepreneurs. One unhappy customer could spread like a deadly disease and inflict others with bad reviews and negative feedback. They could spread like fire and, before you know it, the brand name is in jeopardy and partially tarnished. Nobody wants that. Startups take a long time to settle down and make their presence known in the market. A few unhappy customers could pose a threat to the well-being of your business. But you know what? It’s more important how you deal with unhappy customers, because that determines whether your business will stand strong or fall apart.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

This is what Bill Gates thinks, and it wipes any potential fears of having a few whiny customers. Of course, every startup wants satisfied customers, but then again everything is a learning process in the entrepreneurial world. So if you do face hot-tempered customers, take it as a stepping stone toward improved business and communication skills. Below I’ll be discussing how you can deal with unhappy customers. This will lead to a prosperous business and possibly a positive association with your brand name in the future. So let’s get started.

Customer Service Department: Annoyance or Assistance?

The most annoying thing about customer care is when you call the number and are passed from one person to the other. It is by far one of the most frustrating experiences anyone can have on the phone. How many of you actually hung up the phone while you were on hold being connected to another department? I have no shame in admitting that I’ve hung up on those wretched phone operators several times.

Why did I hang up? Because nobody bothered listening to my complaint properly and there was close to zero understanding of my problem. I felt like I was speaking to rehearsed robots. Avoid making the customer feel this way, at all costs.

Don’t make your customers feel like hand me downs. I particularly like this post because it discusses how customers need service and support. Nothing is more important than giving them emotional support and listening to them properly. This gives it a human touch rather than make it sound like a monotonous robot.

Instead of making an unhappy customer wait, make sure that you’re swift and subtle with your dealings. Make them feel like they’re talking to someone who understands their complaints/concerns. Instead of reacting to their anger or dissatisfaction, assure them politely that you are here to solve their issues with the product/service. If you want to reach an amicable platform, then think of what they want and what your business needs and then reach a middle point and stick to it.  For instance you could waive their bill because of unsatisfactory services. Or you could send a free gift voucher to them. This will make the customer feel prioritized and valued. Be of assistance rather than an annoyance to them.

Don’t play the blame game

As tempting as it might be, don’t blame the unhappy customer. Even if they do seem off track and slightly at fault, avoid pointing fingers at them, sometimes it just infuriates or embarrasses them. Neither of those things will help you retain customers or create brand awareness.

It seems more sensible to play like you’re on their team and fully understand their situation. If they insist on something regardless of company policy, be certain that you’re using a calm tone and tell them you’ll see what you can do. Instead of shifting the blame on them, it’s better and profitable to relate to their dissatisfaction. If you can’t fix it, you can try to compensate. Empathize with them even if their story sounds all kinds of wrong, look for ways to retain them as customers. Be the customer’s best friend.

What do they want: Happy times!

What does an unhappy customer really want? Clearly something is missing if they’re unhappy, or maybe they feel they’ve been wronged somehow. Whichever one it is, give them a chance to voice it. Make sure you ask the customer what change they’d like to see or what they feel went wrong. This is how you make changes or improvements to your business. Use their unhappy feedback to avoid any further problems.

That’s why they have online communication — so customers can get their point across, either through social media or chat apps within the website. If you stay in touch with customers more often and communicate openly, then there are fewer chances of unhappy customers.

You can often fix their woes and complaints by taking an active role in improving existing faults or flaws in your company.

Unfinished business equals bad business

Don’t be that startup! You know the one I’m talking about, where the customers won’t stop complaining but the business seems less than bothered.

If you know that a customer is unhappy, then it should be your goal to satisfy him or her. Otherwise you leave room for further doubts, queries and dissatisfaction. If that happens, in the long run, you could lose customers and possibly your reputation too. You must follow up with your customers; keep in touch with them regularly when they’ve faced a problem with your company. Ask them if the service/product was any better the next time. Make sure you utilize any modes of communication possible, whether through phone, text, post mail or e-mail. Send them gift cards on their birthdays and maybe even a personalized card on behalf of your company. Pleasantly surprise them with such things and they won’t forget you.

Follow up on customers’ future experiences with your company by making personalized calls (preferably by someone higher up). This will make them forget about their dissatisfaction and probably start a chain reaction toward brand advocacy.

Remember, dealing with complaints can lead to a better understanding of your customer base and their needs. Once you know what they want and have won their hearts, you could have an army of brand advocates rooting for you to win in the market.

Try these tips out and see how success comes your way. Also, share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments section.