Dealing with Dissatisfied Customers

At one point, we have all either been a dissatisfied customer or have had to deal with a dissatisfied customer. You may agree, that one of the most frustrating things about being a dissatisfied customer, is usually not the issue that has caused you to be dissatisfied, but how the issue is dealt with.

Those of us in business who are providing a service or product to a consumer need to be prepared for the problems that a customer may have. It would be naïve to think that you will have customer satisfaction 100% of the time, and, most of the problems a customer will have are predictable, so it is our responsibility to prepare for these problems and to have effective plans for service recovery.

The key to dealing with a dissatisfied customer is to deal with the person before the problem. This helps to diffuse any anger or negative emotions before trying to solve the problem. Four strategies for customer service recovery are

  1. Listen without interrupting

  2. Convey that this is not how you normally do business

  3. Reflect on or restate the customer’s specific complain, including what happened and the customers' feelings

  4. Do not argue or become defensive

Once the customer understands that you are on their side, and the anger and emotions have been diffused, coming up with a solution for the customers' problem is the second step in this process.

Five strategies for addressing customer problems are as follows;

  1. Train Employees how to address predictable problems

  2. Empower employees to do whatever it takes to solve the problem

  3. Never tell the customer they are wrong, even if you know this, rather investigate the problem with the customer

If this is a complaint that is ‘impossible to change’ (e.g. price), use the ‘Feel, Felt, Found’ technique. “I know how you feel about… A lot of other customers felt the same until they found out…”                                                         

The way a problem is addressed can either build up or break down the customer's relationship with you. A loyal customer is valuable to any company, it can provide a lifetime of repeated purchases and a good reputation. Leaders must ensure they train employees to deliver these solutions and strategies in the best way, with the focus of the customer in mind.