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What Lessons Can You Take Away From Your Unhappy Customers?
Published on Jul 1, 2010
Read our article, 'What Lessons Can You Take Away From Your Unhappy Customers?' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Al Bagocious, The A & I Consulting Group, recently posted this quote from Bill Gates to his LinkedIn group: "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."
Even the crankiest customer should be your most valued customer because he or she holds a lot of power when it comes to affecting your business' reputation. As you may have learned from past experiences, dissatisfied customers tend to be the most vocal when it comes to telling friends and family as well as posting publicly to the world about their not-so-pleasant experiences. Up to two-thirds of unhappy customers express their dissatisfaction directly to the company who provided the service or product. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are ignored.
Why does this happen? Too often businesses handle complaints by requiring customers to jump through hoops. They may be redirected a zillion times to different departments to handle their complaint or they may have had to spend time writing countless letters that didn't generate any response.
So that's the point when dissatisfied customers do the damage. They get on the horn with their family and friends, launching the word-of-mouth campaign that tarnishes your reputation. And unfortunately, there's no way to reverse what's already been done.
The key is to view these complaining customers as opportunities. If you are able to make them happy in the end, you have cultivated loyalty, increased customer retention and retained your good standing in the marketplace.
When working on improving customer relationships, try incorporating these best practices:
Be open to discuss concerns with your customers
Be willing to listen and empathize with customers
Be personable and understanding - don't try to appease them with automated responses
Be apologetic and acknowledge the problem - even if you believe your company is not to blame
Be thoughtful about your actions and examine ways to improve how you do things in the future.
Ultimately your main focus should be to have customers walk away with the satisfaction experienced from a great product or service.
What was your greatest learning experience with an unhappy customer that made you better in your business?