This article was updated on September 18, 2018.
Unfortunately, every business owner has to deal with unhappy customers. In these sometimes uncomfortable situations, it's important that you and your team are responsive and try your best to avoid being defensive. After all, each mishandled customer complaint can potentially result in the loss of a customer, a pattern that no company can sustain for an extended period of time.
Here are some tips for dealing with unhappy customers in a proactive, productive way:
Prepare for a Bad Customer Experience
There's no way to anticipate every situation, but it's best to prepare yourself so you're ready to handle dissatisfied customers should a problem arise. For example, you may want to establish a plan of action for how your team should respond to a scenario in which you receive an influx of calls, emails and social media posts from dissatisfied customers due to a widespread event, such as a security breach.
Take Prompt Action to Resolve the Issue
By ignoring the problem or taking too long to respond to customers, you can make a bad situation even worse. It's in every company's best interest to acknowledge that a mistake was made and act promptly to resolve it. As Bill Hogg explains in a Small Biz Club article, "When an upset customer calls and receives an immediate resolution to their problem, they will be much more likely to return as a customer." On the other hand, dissatisfied customers who don't get a proper response are more likely to never purchase that company's products or services again.
Adopt a Problem-Solving Mindset
Just as you and your employees address other work-related issues as they arise, you may want to establish an office culture in which you look at each unhappy customer's complaint as a problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible. Some businesses even authorize their staff members to spend a set amount of dollars resolving complaints (where appropriate).
Turn Each Negative Situation Into a Learning Experience for Your Business
Perhaps the greatest advantage presented by an unhappy customer is the opportunity to improve your company's response time and fix any inherent problems with your products or services. Some customer complaints may be unjustified, but those that lead to refinements in your operations or offerings can produce genuine, transformative change in your business.
Stay Active on Your Social Media Channels
There may be times when unhappy customers vent on social media instead of coming to you with their complaints. As such, it's always a good idea to monitor your social media accounts and set up any relevant Google Alerts. These actions will allow you to become more proactive in dealing with unhappy customers online, which will help to improve your brand's overall reputation.
By following these tips, you can transform a bad customer experience into an opportunity to improve your products and services and enhance your business.