How to Deal with Unhappy Customers

How to Deal with Unhappy Customers

by Liz Krause · 10 comments

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

That’s a quote by Bill Gates. Learning how to deal with unhappy customers is a critical component of running a successful business.

Today Liz Krause is going to show you various ways to deal with unhappy customers and situations that you will most likely face when running your own business.

Unhappy customers are still customers

Unhappy customers express their feelings because they still want to be a customer. They just want you to fix their problem. Here are some ideas on how to resolve issues with your customers.

Talk to them directly on the phone

Resolving an issue can be as simple as sorting out any misunderstandings with a customer directly over the phone. This approach is more personal than communicating via email and the customer appreciates it.

Offer a refund

If keeping a customer means offering a refund or exchange, it’s worth it. Providing additional customer services such as paying for shipping can go a long way towards building a better customer relationship.

Know when to let them go

Sometimes the only way to make a customer happy is to lose them as a customer. This is particularly true with services when your client wants out of a contract.  Getting out of a contract typically requires a termination fee, however in sticky situations it can be better for both parties to negotiate a reduced price or agree on no penalty at all.

No matter what outcome you choose, always be patient and treat them with respect.

Respond Logically, Not Emotionally

Customers don’t appreciate how much time you put into your business. So when they complain about one of your products, it’s easy to become defensive and overreact. Here are a few tips to overcome the temptation to react emotionally.

Be logical and practical

Your goal is to solve whatever problem your customer has. If they don’t like the way you designed something – fix it. If they think you’re painting job is slopping – fix it. If something you shipped to them is damaged or doesn’t work, offer a refund or ship them a new one.

Focus on the solution, not the emotions and your customer will be happy to work with you again.

It’s business, not personal

One of the biggest downfalls I have seen in the business world (and in my own business) is when people in a company take things personally. Usually when a customer has a complaint it is not about you – it’s about the product.

Look at the problem logically and ask yourself what is the real issue at hand? What is the root of the problem and how do I fix it so it doesn’t happen again? Find a solution that is a win-win for both parties.

Address issues in a timely manner

Unhappy customers usually just want to vent to anyone and everyone they can – on and offline.   That means you need to fix this problem before it spreads.

A good example is the Netflix debacle that when they raised their prices without any explanation or effort to soften the blow.  Customers were enraged, not about the price increase, but by the way they were treated.  Instead of trying to smooth things over, Netflix defiantly charged ahead which caused many of their customers to cancel their subscriptions.

Had Netflix seriously considered the posts, comments, tweets, and other online feedback by customers, maybe they could have avoided the financial mess they are now in.

What to do when it is too late?

I can’t speak for Netflix, but in my previous business we had a customer who made some bad assumptions about our service and posted his frustration on a forum.  When we saw the post, instead of firing back a public retort, we talked to the customer privately. In the end the customer apologized and felt bad he used the forum to vent instead of coming to us directly.

Then we asked if he’d mind deleting the post, which he did and within 24 hours it was removed.

Working in business means dealing with customers – happy and not so happy.  In the end, finding a win-win solution will benefit both your customers.

What if Your Customer is Angry?

How to Deal with Angry CustomersSee how I dealt with a hilarious email from a very angry customer:
How to Deal with Angry Customers >>

Photo by: J.G. Park