How to Turn an Unhappy Customer into a Raving Fan

Emilie Johnston

Nothing can make your heart drop faster than feeling like you just lost a customer.

But just because a customer is unhappy, it doesn't mean they're gone for good. On the contrary, a company's most loyal fans are often the ones that had a problem, and also had a stellar experience getting it solved. The simple fact that they're bringing their problem to you — instead of simply walking away angry — shows that if you play your customer success cards right, you've got a great chance of winning them over.

Here are a few simple tips to help turn even the crankiest customer into an awesome business opportunity.

Be as Personal as Possible

Always think twice before replying to customer complaints via email. This might be one of the few occasions that warrants a personal phone call. An unhappy customer needs to feel heard, taking the time to call them directly and really listen to their complaint is the first crucial step in getting past it. Want more on how to deliver personalized customer service even the grumpiest clients will appreciate? Check out these awesome tips from Jeremy Watkin, Head of Quality at FCR.

Ask the Customer How to Fix It

Usually, what the customer really wants is way more simple than you realize. If you feel like you're just not making any headway, ask them directly what you can do to make the situation right. Then act on what they tell you and keep them updated at every step of the process so they can see step-by-step that you're actively fixing their problem. And as a big cherry on top, asking the customer what they want is a great way to get amazing insights that can improve your product or service, and the way you market it.

Give a Little Something Extra

Go above and beyond the call of duty by offering a gift or discount. Try to make it something that will really surprise or delight your customer. Bonus points if you make it personal, like this epic example from Warby Parker. If the customer has told you they want a refund, or are cancelling their account — breathe, smile, then go ahead and send them a small gift with a personalized note to make it clear your door is wide open if they ever want to come back.

Always Say Thanks

End the call with a heartfelt thank you for giving you the chance to do business better. And don't be afraid to color outside the lines with how and when you say thanks. A follow up phone call is a great way to really drive home the message that you care and will go out of your way to make sure their problem is completely solved. Some companies even go as far as to share the experience on their social channels and offer a discount to all customers as a way of saying "thanks to Customer X for showing us how to do things better."

Remember, no matter how upset your customer is, it ain't over 'til it's over. Take the time to work through it together, and you'll be amazed how much loyalty you can inspire. Remember, the best customers are often the ones most impressed not by your perfection, but by your desire to “make it right.”

Got a great customer turnaround story? What happened and how did you resolve it? Share it in the comments below!

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