5 Ways to overcome challenges with dissatisfied customers

Proper investment into understanding dissatisfied customers and enhancing customer satisfaction is an opportunity to create value for your business. 

Furthermore, properly addressing customer dissatisfaction is crucial to not only customer retention but also reputation management. Turning around an unhappy customer can be one of the best ways to transform a potential lost sale into an exponential gain. Such situations often create the most loyal of customers that share their positive experiences with others. 

As seen from over 2.4M consumer reviews left on PissedConsumer.com, the causes of customer disappointment generally fall under these categories:

  • dissatisfaction with the quality or value of the provided product or service;
  • dissatisfaction with the service delivery and customer service.

Understanding the nature of complaints and what you can do about them is one of the central business challenges you will face. So, if you haven’t already addressed this key consideration, now is the time to do so.

Learning from review websites

The specifics of customer complaints will obviously be broader in scope than the aforementioned categories and, of course, even overlap, yet in most cases, they do apply. Individuals react diversely, although it remains important to identify patterns in negative feedback. 

In this regard, online review websites are a handy tool in solving business problems. The popularity of consumer feedback sites means they can be an excellent resource for interpreting your customers’ wants and needs, as they collate hundreds, even thousands of unique consumer reviews, presenting the spectrum of grievances, providing usable data on what otherwise would be a mystery.

This rich resource of customer experience can help you better understand how to mitigate and prevent customer disappointment and develop strategies to deal with specific issues that may be relevant to your business.

The types of a dissatisfied customer

It is generally acknowledged that the majority of disappointed consumers will not express themselves about perceived poor business practice directly (to the company they dealt with) or even publicly (review websites); they simply move on and take their business elsewhere.

Quantified, we are talking around 5%. This may not sound like much, but considering the audience that even one review can get, not to mention the negative word of mouth, the potential impact becomes clear.

With this in mind, it is relevant to differentiate between dissatisfied customers who share their experience and those whose opinions you will not ever know about.

Whereas the former can be dealt with using both reactive and proactive strategies, the latter can only be addressed with an initiative-taking approach.

What can you do?

Of course, with care and effort, you can turn around the situation and turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy, loyal customer. The first step to achieving this is to address complaints with a positive, purposeful attitude.

Don’t dread complaints, be prepared

Knowing that your customer is dissatisfied is the first step. Customers rarely go to the effort of leaving feedback, yet when they do, it is majority negative. Contented customers will get on with their day and pay no further thought; some may be upset but simply not see the benefit in venting their displeasure.

So, your strategy here should be to encourage feedback by making the process simple and not time-consuming. 

Gather online reviews and take them on board. Reflect on what is said and how you can address it. Such an approach can furnish you with problem-solving examples, with which you can train yourself and your staff.

The more communication channels open here, the better. A broad presence across social media, as well as responsive, well-prepared email and telephone support, will make it seem less of a hassle for the customer. A quick call or email can easily clear up a minor issue or misunderstanding before it escalates into a public dressing down.

Find out what happened and why

Direct feedback or communication from customers is a reward. If they have decided to contact you first, then this is an opportunity for you. From this point, you can glean the following:

  • Why is the customer unhappy? Poor product or poor service delivery?
  • What can be done to remedy the issue? Has the damage already been done, or can you set things back on track?
  • How can you regain their trust? What reasonable expectations have not been fulfilled?

You can ask several questions designed to identify the issue that incorporates previous customer feedback; this way, known problems can be dealt with swiftly and confidently.  Known issues can be responded to with a known solution, or if you are still forming a solution, an acknowledgment that the problem is recognized and being worked on.

Regaining trust

It has been estimated that for each negative experience or consumer review,  twelve positive ones are necessary to balance things out again.

People need to feel acknowledged, let alone satisfied. So, make your customers know that you have time for them and listen to what they have to say. It will almost always be appreciated.

Communication can be followed up with a courtesy email, enquiring as to whether the customer was satisfied with the response, whether the matter was considered solved or not. Doing so shows that the dialogue is still open and that the customer should feel free to contact you again in the future regarding any of their related concerns.

This also lets your customers know that you consider their feedback important and that you welcome the value that such insight provides for your business.

Anticipate and prevent

It is imperative that you address known issues, but it also pays to be proactive and anticipate future sticking points. Keeping your existing customer base happy should be part of a broader approach that also looks to attract new customers.

Bear in mind, as previously mentioned, you will never hear from the vast majority of your customers, so it is vital to put yourself in their shoes and pre-empt any foreseeable complications, as this unknown negative response will still affect your business.

A customer-focused outlook, with forensic attention to the customer experience and what you can do to improve it, is essential. 

Be aware of current trends

Keep an ear to the ground for market and consumer trends, corporate practices, the current desires and demands, and feedback on the things that work. Doing so is the best means of perceiving the evolving requirements of your customer, anticipating and making changes to prevent you from being left behind in a transforming market.

All instances of customer dissatisfaction must be addressed or at least given sufficient attention. Again, an unhappy customer is much more likely to voice their experience than a happy one. Hence, if unresolved, the bad word of mouth can spread, possibly without you even realizing it, damaging your brand and negating all the time and effort you have put into making it work.

Joanna Clark Simpson
Joanna Clark Simpson
Joanna is interested in journalism from a young age. Her work at PissedConsumer.com gives her a choice to analyze consumer experiences. In her articles, she provides consumers with useful information and tips to avoid unpleasant issues and scams.
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