unhappy customer

Here's How to Rescue a Negative Customer Interaction

Posted by Stacey Papp

Uh oh! That dreaded moment has come – you know the one you’ve been trying your hardest to avoid for years. That’s right…we’re talking about an interaction with a rather unhappy customer. Since you can’t go back and rewind the past to turn a negative conversation into a positive one, we’re here to help you look forward and get you on the road to a great solution smoothly and quickly. Check out a few tried and true tips!

1. React Quickly
58% of customers say that will never use a company again after a negative experience and 54% of customers share a bad experience with 5 or more people.* Those numbers are startling! Think of it this way…the longer a customer is left to stew over a negative experience with your company, the unhappier they will be. This leads to bad word-of-mouth marketing for your business…and that’s something you don’t want or need. Responding quickly shows the customer that you care about their issues and it’s important to you that the situation gets remedied as quickly as possible. 

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2. Listen More, Talk Less
In other words, let the customer talk. After a negative experience, your customer is likely upset – and that’s understanding. Whatever their venting style, it is important to give them the opportunity to air out their frustration. While this is happening, try your best not to interrupt them, cut them off or offer a solution before they are ready to hear it…after they’re done getting their emotions out. While it may be easy to take offense to what the customer is saying, try your best not to. Remember, this isn’t a personal attack against the business you worked so hard to build and grow. Although factors outside your control may have caused the problem, you represent the company as a whole and what you say (and how you say it) will carry a lot of weight.

3. Understanding & Empathy Are Key
Besides letting your customer vent, validating their feelings, and acknowledging those feelings as legitimate concerns will help get to a solution quicker…and calm them down faster. Be sure to incorporate phrasing into your conversation that shows them you understand why they feel the way they do. You may try a few of these…
  • “You’re right, that is really frustrating.”
  • “I can see why you’re upset; I would be too.”
  • “I’m sorry that happened to you and I’d really like to help fix this issue for you.” (This one may be the most important)

4. Work Together Towards a Solution

Nothing says team work like asking the unhappy customer to be involved in finding a solution. By doing this, you will make them feel like they are getting a solution that is customized just for them and their needs. Once they have described what they need to remedy the situation, give them a specific strategy and timeline of your proposed plan. For example, if the solution is to process a refund of some type, be sure to tell your customer how many days it will take to process the refund. Also, make sure to let them know if they can expect a follow-up email or phone call to let them know the situation has been taken care of. 

5. Check Back Often

After all is said and done, what you do now matters most! After all the venting and problem solving is taken place, be sure to check back in with them. Use this check-in time as an opportunity to determine if the solution was the one they were looking for, if they’re happy with the outcome and if they need any additional assistance. Doing this shows your customer that you care about their satisfaction after having a bad experience and are willing to go the extra mile to prevent an issue like this from arising in the future. Sometimes, your customers will have bad experiences. While you can’t totally stop bad customer experiences from happening, you can have a plan in place to remedy the situation as fast as possible when then do come up. The key to turning a negative experience into a positive one is appropriate follow-up.

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