4 tactics to bring back unhappy customers

Author, Academic Director
Concordia University
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It’s not unusual in the business world to encounter an upset customer. However, many companies fail to consider their role in creating an angry customer and take the appropriate steps to fix it. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating how much damage an angry customer can cause. If you’re in the business of repeat customers or major purchases, you’re going to want to kindle a strong relationship with every customer and client, and if you’ve angered a customer your business will benefit from taking the time to reach out and make things right.

Angry customers leave bad reviews, tell their family and friends about their experiences and negatively affect the reputation of your business. Don’t let one bad interaction or failure ruin the success of your business. Take some time to reach out to unhappy customers to see what you can do to bring back their business and their support.

1. Listen to what you did wrong

The first step to bringing back an unhappy customer is hearing them out. Letting your customers tell you what’s wrong — and sometimes just letting them vent at you — can do a lot to alleviate their negative feelings, and it can also give you a chance to connect with them on a personal level. Let them describe what happened to upset them, then put yourself in their shoes and empathize with their feelings.

Customers don’t want an insincere apology, and they don’t want to feel like their complaints are just annoying you. Make an upset customer feel heard and respected, and think critically about what their expectations were and how they were violated. They likely aren’t the only customer with such expectations, which means if one customer talks to you about an issue, there are likely more customers who have similar feelings.

2. Look for recommendations

After you’ve talked to your customer about what you may have done wrong, seek recommendations for how they would like the problem solved. Ask for recommendations for how to improve the immediate situation, and how to change your policies and procedures to prevent similar problems from reoccurring in the future. Be honest with the customer when you talk to them, including your intent to follow through with improvements, and be sincere about wanting to improve your business. Let the customer know what changes are and aren’t realistic, and let them know honestly what sort of efforts you are going to make to fix the problem.

3. Implement the advice given

The worst thing you can do at this step is lie to your customer. An angry customer you are trying to win back is likely to follow up in the future to see whether or not you’ve made improvements that you promised. A any Canada immigration lawyer will tell you they will eventually notice if you haven’t taken the steps you promised. If you temporarily improve your policies but fall back into old habits, you’re going to quickly have another angry customer on your hands, and your reputation may take a hit for falling back on old habits.

4. Give your customers something in return

In order to improve your business, take steps to prevent problems from coming back. Give your upset customer an incentive in order to soften their mood and make them feel more positively towards the company, whether it’s an upgrade, a discount or a special service in order to make them feel like you are taking steps to address their personal situation. Try to tailor what you give them to their needs, and don’t be afraid to be generous with a customer you want to win back. Customers that feel like their needs have been heard are likely to stay on longer than customers that are only marginally satisfied or still resentful of what you’ve done in the past.

Take the time to listen to the needs of your customers when they’re upset, and give them what they need in order to retain their business. Customers that feel like a company is interested in their feedback are loyal, long-term customers who will reward you for your efforts to keep them abord.

About chipespinoza

About chipespinoza

Recognized globally as a leading authority on the subject of generational diversity in the workplace, Chip Espinoza is trusted by Fortune 100 to family owned businesses to help them create environments in which all generations thrive.

He was recently named a top 15 global thought leader on the future of work by the Economic Times. Chip co-authored Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce, [email protected]: The 7 Skills Every Twenty-Something Needs To Achieve Greatness At Work, and Millennials Who Manage: How To Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become A Great Leader.


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