How to Deal With Unhappy Customers

Return to Glossary

Turning your customers into repeat buyers — and preventing them from switching to one of your competitors — is the key to company growth. Your support team must delight and appease customers at every touchpoint, especially those customers who have complaints about your product or service.

Whether you’re interacting with customers over the phone, online, or in person, a positive attitude and a willingness to make things right are critical to keeping them happy.

Here are some best practices for dealing with unhappy customers.

READ MORE: 8 Reasons Rewards Improve Your Customer Service

Practice Active Listening

Customers want to feel heard by the companies they give their business to. Your first step should be to listen to their complaint with the intent to understand. If the customer is angry, take time to focus on what they’re trying to communicate, not their tone of voice. To show a customer you’re really listening, repeat their complaint back to them, asking clarifying questions to be sure you understand.

Apologize for the Problem

According to HubSpot, 96% of regular customers say they would continue shopping with a business after a mistake if they received an apology. Make sure to be as specific as possible with your apology. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry this happened,” say “I’m sorry the product you wanted was unavailable.” Your apology shows customers that you truly care about their business. It also can help shift their mood from aggravated to pleased that you’re paying attention to their complaint.

Show Empathy and Remain Calm

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Show them you’ve been there yourself by saying something like, “I understand how frustrating this situation must be for you.” If they’re still upset, do your best to stay calm. You may even need to pause before you speak or type a response. When you’re interacting by chat or email, make sure to proofread what you’ve written to take out any possible negative connotations.

Build and Maintain Trust

This is your chance to show your customers that their business truly matters. Once they’ve given you all the information you need to resolve their problem, follow through on your promise to address the issue. Letting them know the steps you are taking to resolve the situation will help them see you as a real person instead of nameless corporation.

Reward Them for Their Trouble

“The customer is always right” is a service mainstay for a reason. When customers are unhappy, you can’t always make things right. But you can appease them with a reward to show them you value their business. Offer them a digital gift card of their choice. Be sure that the amount given matches the cost of the inconvenience they experienced. A $10 gift card for coffee might be a good choice for customers who were unable to get the promotional price on your website, while a $100 prepaid Visa or Mastercard may be more appropriate for customers who experienced a service outage during prime business hours.

Offer Instant Gratification, One Way or Another

Here’s your chance to delight your customers. Personalize and send the “We’re sorry” digital gift card to their email, letting them know they can redeem it right away. Even if you can’t resolve their issue immediately, sending a reward on the spot shows your commitment to making it right.

Follow Up to Make Sure the Issue Is Resolved

Ensure your relationship remains positive by following up after you’ve sent the reward. This is the ideal time to ask customers to fill out a survey or post a review of your customer complaint resolution capabilities. If you have a loyalty rewards program, you can slip in a reminder to keep these customers coming back to your business.

Related Topics:

How to Turn an Appeasement Reward Into More Customer Engagement

Consider These Stats to Build the Best Feedback Survey Template

How to Send the Right Message to an Unhappy Customer