How to Make Unhappy Customers Your Greatest Asset

The ultimate goal of any CX effort is to create the experiences that in turn produce happy customers who then become enthusiastic brand advocates. However, just like any goal, this is not necessarily achievable all the time.

For any business, the reality is that from time to time there will be unhappy customers. A particular location could have an off day or maybe a customer is just in a bad mood. Regardless of the cause, negative experiences will happen. The measure of your CX strength then isn’t whether negative interactions happen or not, but how your organization responds to them.

One course of action is to simply write off the experience with a “we’ll do better next time,” but I would argue that this reaction is not enough. In fact, just leaving those unhappy customers be could have dire consequences. After all, 91% of unhappy customers won’t return to your brand.

You may not be able to go back in time and stop that negative interaction before it happens, but you can treat this unhappy customer as an opportunity. Why? Because 70% of the time, a person will become a repeat customer when their complaint is resolved in their favor.

With the right approach, an unhappy customer can actually become your best CX asset. Here are two ways that you can use a negative experience to shape CX success:

Identify Areas for Improvement

Every company has areas where they can improve, but knowing which areas to spend time and resources on can be difficult. For each industry, there are the standby areas for improvement, and across all businesses, there are standards for cleanliness, service, and product. It would be easy to just assess the most popular categories to analyze, but this can be a dangerous policy.

In many cases, the areas an organization sees as needing improvement often do not ally with their customer’s pain points. This discrepancy can cause an organization to waste resources on areas that will not make a difference. This is where unhappy customers come in. In the very act of voicing their complaint, they are identifying the areas they would most like to see improved. By assessing unhappy customer feedback enmass, you can prioritize true areas for improvement and make informed, effective business decisions.

Use the Personal Connection to Create Brand Advocates

So a customer has voiced their complaint and now you need to react. Before reaching out to the customer, it is important to acknowledge that if you go in blind, you can do more harm than good. If a customer service representative is not armed with data when they make a call, they enable the customer to re-live their negative experience and all the emotions that came with it, making the call meant to recover them an equally unpleasant experience.

It is imperative to be informed of the customer’s situation before reaching out not just to avoid this potential blow up, but also because that familiarity provides the potential for a personal connection. When a company representative knows a customer’s situation, is able to apologize, and can offer to make it up to them, a customer feels known and important. This is the most effective way to create a brand connection and even more to instill loyalty and advocacy in your customers. The negative experience then becomes a positive one, and that positive experience can do wonders for your CX reputation. On average, Americans tell an average of 9 people about good customer experiences. That means you have the potential to create nine new brand advocates by simply closing the loop with one customer.

Feedback from an unhappy customer can seem like an overwhelming negative at first glance, but when you take a second look, the potential is even greater than the initial difficulty.

About Author

David Van Brocklin Sr. Director, Customer Success

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