7 min

How to Turn Unhappy Customers into Your Biggest Fans

As a business owner, you know that online reviews can make or break your business. 

Positive ones are worth their weight in gold, providing the social proof your prospects want before they take the plunge and hit “buy now” or “book now.” 

But positive reviews come from happy customers.

What do you do when you have customers who are unhappy? 

At best, they won’t leave a review at all. At worst, they’ll broadcast their dissatisfaction all over Facebook, where your next potential customers will see it and think twice about buying from you. 

The good news is these unhappy customers are actually huge opportunities for your business. If you know what to do, you can turn them into your biggest fans and your most vocal online advocates. 

It’s not magic or alchemy. It’s simple business 101. And we’ll share the “secret” with you right now.  

Here’s how to transform an unhappy customer into one who will sing your praises.


Why Unhappy Customers Are Actually Good for Business 


In any kind of business, the fiercest kind of customer loyalty is forged when things go wrong. 

Sound unlikely? Let us explain. 

It’s easy to like anything — a person, a product, a business — when everything is going well. The sun is shining, there are no bumps in the road, all is right with the world. 

But the true test of character, from a person or a brand, is when everything is not going well. The product fails, the haircut isn’t what you expected, the stain doesn’t come out of the carpet. 

When stuff like this happens, your customers’ eyes are on you.

What will you do?

Will you acknowledge the issue and help make things right? Or will you leave them on their own to figure it out? 

If you show your customers that you can be counted on to handle things, then no matter how bad the error, you’ll have earned the deepest kind of trust and most enduring loyalty from them. 

One of the best examples of this comes from Toyota.

When they rolled out their luxury Lexus LS400 model car in 1989, they began receiving reports of an issue with the car’s cruise control. Not wanting to let a minor misstep tarnish their brand new line, they initiated a recall to fix the problem. But they also went a step further. They called each Lexus owner personally to apologise and returned their cars to them washed, polished and with a full tank of gas. 

The result? The unhappy customers were so impressed that they became Lexus’s biggest cheerleaders. 

This approach isn’t just for big brands — small and medium-sized businesses can use the very same tactics to turn their customers’ frowns upside down. Let’s talk about how. 


Turn Those Frowns Upside Down in 4 Simple Steps


1. Ask them what went wrong - and really listen to what they say

It’s tempting to avoid dealing with unhappy customers altogether. No one wants to hear that their product or service didn’t hit the mark.  

But take it from us, these difficult conversations are incredibly valuable. Just taking the time to hear your customers out establishes the all-important goodwill. Plus, if you can keep an open mind, you’ll gain essential insights about where your business can do better.


2. Apologize for the experience

This step may seem obvious, but don’t forget to apologize! Even if you don’t agree with the feedback, it’s important to acknowledge that your unhappy customer did not have a good experience with your business. Remember, people are emotional creatures. A show of empathy is often all it takes to diffuse the situation and get things back on the right foot.


3. Offer a solution and follow up to make sure it’s carried out

Perhaps more than anything, unhappy customers want to know the way forward. Offer them a solution, whether it’s replacing a faulty product, re-doing a service, issuing a refund, or referring them to another provider who can better handle their needs. 


4. Knock it out of the park

Once an unhappy customer has been brought to your attention, your goal is to win them over. So your every move should be on “above and beyond” mode. 

Think about Lexus and how they filled up the tanks before returning their customers’ cars. They didn’t have to do that, but they wanted to deliver a “wow” factor. Consider what you can do to surprise and delight your customers. 

The goal is to provide the kind of over-the-top, amazing experience that will have them running to their keyboards to type out a detailed, glowing review in praise of your business.

And there you have it. Four simple steps to transforming unhappy customers into your brand’s biggest supporters.  

Want more insider tips on how to get rave online reviews? Download our free guide on how to ethically explode your Google reviews. Or reach out to us to see how we've helped businesses just like yours get hundreds of five-star reviews on sites like Google and Facebook.

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Topics: Reviews, Unhappy Customers, Negative Experience, Happy Customers