Do Not Ignore Your Unhappy Customers

Do Not Ignore Your Unhappy Customers
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Unhappy Customers Have Value
Whether you learn about unhappy customers from their complaints in person, on the phone, or online, do not neglect them. It is tempting to avoid or write off dissatisfied customers, but that is the worst thing that you can do. Not only is their frustration likely to increase with your neglect, but their bad perception of you and your brand will spread to and likely infect others.

What The Research Says
A recent Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study showed what drives sales management crazy:

  • Only 6% of unhappy shoppers let the company know of a problem.
  • But, as many as 31% of unhappy customers told their circle of friends and family about their bad experience.
  • And 6% of unhappy customers told as many as six or more people about their frustration.

This is not the kind of word-of-mouth publicity you or your solution sellers want when you are trying to attract, keep, and grow new and existing customers. In fact, you want the opposite. According to research by Nielson, 92% of consumers say they trust word of mouth and recommendations (both positive and negative) from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.

It is curious, too, that the bad customer experience not only spreads — it grows. In the telling of the story, the rude clerk can often become the verbally abusive clerk. The dress with a slight flaw turns into an un-wearable garment. The incorrect invoice becomes a planned attempt to bilk the client. In other words, the story teller often wants to entertain and so exaggerates. Like the old game of “telephone,” the story wanders farther and farther from the truth.

Do Not Ignore Your Unhappy Customers
You should be thankful if you are made aware of an unhappy customer. Why? Because you are given the opportunity to improve the situation and to turn bad word of mouth into neutral or loyal customers. The good news is that, if you deal quickly and effectively with dissatisfied customers, you can affect a 180 degree shift of their attitude from negative to positive — from bad PR to rave reviews.

In fact, a George Washington University study found that:

  • 50% – 70% of those who complain will do business with you again if the complaint is adequately resolved.
  • And if the customer complaint is resolved promptly, as many as 95% will return.

We have found that these customers return with the same eagerness to share their experience with others as before. As those negative reviews can spread, so too can the positive news — and with the exaggerated stories now in your favor. Social media makes this easy, simple, and instant. Customers can immediately provide positive feedback in addition to following or sharing the latest blog or video posts with friends who trust their opinion.

What your friends say matters. According to Zuberance, a leading Advocate marketing company, deals shared by trusted friends convert at a 4-10 times higher rate than offers sent by companies. So you must increase the positive chatter and identify and resolve the negative experiences whenever you can.

Steps to Take
As soon as you learn about an unhappy customer (especially an unhappy ideal target client):

  1. Try to contact them.
  2. Put yourself in their shoes and treat them with the respect they deserve.
  3. Focus on helping them and truly understanding their story of woe.
  4. Consider what you can do and share with them what is within your authority to accomplish (better to under-promise and over-deliver).
  5. Then commit to getting back to them within a short period of time in a way that works for them.

The Bottom Line
Of those unhappy customers you reach and handle effectively, you should be able to bring back almost all of them. The best statistic of all these studies, however, is that of those you contact, 40% will not only return but they will become great promoters. And, according to Deloitte, customers referred by other loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate.

To learn more about how to create more customer loyalty, download 4 Proven Steps to Truly Delight Customers

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