A dissatisfied customer is a liability. (We can all think of a situation where an unhappy customer turned into a risk for our business.) But what’s most interesting about these customers is that they can actually be turned into assets for your brand. All it takes is an intentional approach that pushes all of the right buttons.
What Makes a Customer Disgruntled?
When you sit down and think about it, there are really only a couple of things that make a customer “disgruntled.” For one, there’s some sort of incident – whether chronic or acute – that doesn’t go the way they anticipated it would. This experience creates a negative reaction. But it goes deeper than that. The second factor – and this is what separates a mildly frustrated customer from one who is totally disgruntled – is that the slight or mistake is perceived as being personal.
When someone feels like they’ve been personally targeted, misled, or wronged, they don’t just get frustrated – they get angry. This leads to a total disenfranchisement that turns the relationship toxic and shifts the customer into a liability for the company. In other words, they start telling friends and family members, posting about the experience on social media, and bad-mouthing your company any chance they get. Depending on what happened, they might even look for ways to get revenge, legal or otherwise.
What Makes a Customer a Fan?
On the other end of the customer spectrum, you have raving fans. These are customers who are beyond happy or satisfied – they flat out love you! They’re so thrilled that they’re willing to be an advocate on your behalf. Much like disgruntled customers, they talk to anyone and everyone who listens. Only in this scenario, they’re sharing positive anecdotes and recommendations.
Raving fans are typically created by going above and beyond. Ironically enough, you create these fans by getting personal – in a positive way. You over-deliver on expectations and show them that they are a priority.
Tips for Turning Disgruntled Customers Into Fans
Flipping a customer from being disgruntled to a raving fan of your business might seem like an impossible feat, but you can do it. Here are several tips for making it happen:
1. Listen Up
Be proactive about asking for feedback. Send out regular customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys to get a feel for how customers think about your brand. Use this to make important decisions about your products and services. If you have automated CSAT survey software, it’s easy to measure and improve customer satisfaction with just a few clicks. Don’t miss this!
2. Address Concerns Right Away
If you notice an issue – whether isolated to a single customer or your entire customer base – don’t delay in addressing it. The faster you move, the more likely it is that customers will give you the benefit of the doubt. This is one reason why social listening is such a good practice. It allows you to identify issues early on and address them quickly.
3. Set a Price on Delight
When this customer’s Christmas package was stolen from her apartment building, the customer service rep at Amazon.com could have pointed fingers and politely let her know that, once the package is delivered, it’s no longer their fault. Instead, he immediately went to work delighting the customer by exceeding expectations. He had a new package shipped and delivered with no extra charge, shipping fees, or questions asked. Sure, the company took a small hit – losing any money they would have made on the sale – but you can bet that customer has placed plenty more orders over her lifetime as a customer.
You might not have the same resources that Amazon has, but you can still delight customers when something goes wrong. In fact, we encourage you to set a price tag on delight. In other words, figure out how much you’re willing to spend in order to make a customer happy (and avoid losing them altogether). Depending on your customer lifetime value and other factors, it might be $50, $400, or even $5,000.
Once you have your price set, you know how much wiggle room you have. If a customer has a serious issue that’s put them in the disgruntled bucket, you can spend up to this amount to save them. And if you do, there’s a good chance they’ll become a raving fan.
Give Your Customers What They Want
Don’t fall for the myth that customer service is too expensive. The only thing that’s too expensive is ignoring customer service. It costs a lot less to make a customer happy than it does to deal with the fallout of a disgruntled customer who has a vendetta against your brand. Be smart and give your customers what they want!