Embrace Your Unhappy Customers

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: April 29, 2016

The most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates

Haters gonna hate. We all know this. Yet, the moment you catch wind of a one star review, a social media complaint gone viral, or an unhappy customer you just can’t seem to please, it happens. That immediate twinge of panic and urge to pack up your bags and go home.

For today’s companies, customer reviews are an unavoidable cost of doing business.

Despite this all too common feeling, negative feedback and unhappy customers are an opportunity (if you allow for it). Negative feedback is valuable for a number of reasons, most of which are difficult to see while you’re in the moment of receiving it. Particularly brutal feedback is always difficult to hear in the beginning. It’s an exercise in stretching your “humility muscle” and, in most situations, isn’t something that you’ll instantly see as valuable. For most people, the first inclination is to get angry and respond with an equally disgruntled tone. Not a good idea.

Instead, embrace it as a learning opportunity. Negative feedback is a necessary component of improving your performance. The negative feedback you receive from any number of sources is an opportunity to learn from what you’re doing, an opportunity to make adjustments to what you’re doing in the future, and to produce better results. And at the end of the day, negative comments – when dealt with appropriately – often turn into astounded customers. Raving fans greatly outweigh the impact of a few complainers.

When you see a disgruntled customer online, don’t panic. Instead work to follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Keep calm and carry on. A negative post or comment is not the end of the world. Typically when customers post unhappy reviews, they are caught up in emotions and are simply looking for someone to hear them out.

Step 2: Take it offline. The first key action, aside from not panicking, is to reach out to the customer and show empathy for what they’re experiencing, let them know that you’re there to help. Ask them to contact you outside the public landscape of the internet. Whether it’s in a private social message, an email, or via phone, take things offline. This will make for better one on one communication for problem resolution and will keep the disgruntled customer from continuing to post unfavorable comments.

Step 3: To respond or not to respond — that is the question. Never. And we repeat, NEVER, ignore a negative review online. Our first human reaction is to do everything in our power to hide or delete anything unfavorable. This will only fuel the fire. Always respond letting them know that you understand what they’re going through and you’re doing everything in your power to come up with a resolution.