Candle in the Dark: How Unsatisfied Customers Help Business Growth

customersBy Sookie Lioncourt

The most significant aspect of any business is its consumer base.

Without them, your business will not generate any income. But, if you have customers – chances are, you’ll also have unhappy customers. Unless you’re perfect. Which, let’s face it, no one is.

Unhappy customers (whether it is product related, price related or customer-service related) can be very challenging to handle, especially when they are active online.

But, just because they aren’t satisfied with your services does not necessarily mean that you can’t turn them around. Dissatisfied customers can be your most valuable assets.

Below, we’ll discuss how you can benefit from your discontented customers.

Cranky Customers: An Ultimate Source Of Learning

Customers who air their complaints to you should never be taken for granted. Bill Gates once said that “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Their feedback (no matter how grave it is) is the feedback you need most.

Without attending to their concerns, you will never learn from your mistakes. They will just rant about their frustration on social media sites without giving you an opportunity to respond. Or worse, they will turn to your competitors.

Wise Marketing suggested you should “reply and create a dialogue with anyone who reaches out to you on a platform like Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below a blog post.” Creating personality (rather than an automatic response) can draw people to your brand.

Easier to Sell Product to an Existing Customer

Obviously, it’s easier to sell your products and/or services to current clients – unsatisfied or not! After you’ve learned about your mistakes and addressed their concerns, you can benefit a lot from their continuing patronage, and hopefully their increased respect for your brand.

In a LinkedIn post by Beyond Philosophy CEO Colin Shaw, he highlighted a study from Marketing Metrics saying that the “probability of selling to an existing customer is 60??70 percent. On the other hand, the probability of selling to a new prospect is only five to twenty percent. Keep in mind, though, this doesn’t mean you should abandon your attempts to acquire new customers. The statistics simply suggest that you should first tie your loose ends with your existing customers.”

Word-Of-Mouth Advertising

Only six percent of your customers with negative experiences will publish their experiences through email, social media, and/or phone calls. This is based on a 2012 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Verde group. But, 31 percent will tell other people (including your competitors) about it. The other six percent will share their bad experiences with six more people. This is a serious case of bad word-of-mouth.

But, don’t fret. Consider this as a gift, wrote Matt Mickiewicz in the American Express open forum. Mickiewicz suggests that “if a complaint is handled in the right way, they can become your most fervent advocates.” A consumer who had an unpleasant incident with a particular brand, but was thrilled by how the company has handled the incident is more likely to become a ?ªfree brand ambassador’ for that brand.

Dealing With Complaints

Dealing with irate customers is the most difficult part of the process. Fail at this step, and you’ll lose them permanently. Thus, you should consider the following tips:

-Use your best listening skills. Really hear what they are saying, before unleashing your rebuttal.

-Actively sympathize and apologize when necessary.

-Be on their team, they need to feel that you are their ally and not their enemy. Even as a company representative, they should feel that you understand how they feel, and are actively interested in making it right.

-And, of course, look for an immediate and satisfactory solution.

No one wants to have an unhappy customer. But, if you see them as a gift rather than a problem, they can help your business be a success. But only if you’ve treated them respectfully, and left them smiling at the end.

Image: Some rights reserved by j0sh via Flickr