How to Handle the Unhappy Customer

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December 16, 2015 by Harry Stoll

No matter how good your customer service skills, you will eventually have to deal with an unhappy client.  Sometimes, you make a mistake, an error, or maybe your customer is just having a lousy day. These tactics may help you salvage your good reputation while keeping your customer in the fold.

The first step in handling the unhappy patron is the most obvious: Listen!  If your client is dissatisfied, listen to their concerns without interruption.  Sometimes seemingly difficult customers just want someone to listen to them and understand their issues.  When customers believe you are hearing their problems and concerns, they typically will give you the time to find a solution to their dilemma. After listening, repeat back to the customer the problem they’ve expressed.  This will let them know you’ve heard and understood their issue.  By listening without interruption, you will likely hear important information that will help you find a satisfactory solution.

An unhappy patron will often know what they want or need to remedy a problem.  Allow the customer to tell you what will satisfy them and how you can solve their problems.  Ask questions like, “What would you like me to do?” or “How should we fix this for you?” may calm customers down some and lead them toward more effective, open communication lines.  Remember to thank them for their feedback, and ask for specific contact information so you can get back to them with the proper solution.

Once you empathized with the unhappy customer’s frustration, and you’ve thanked them for bringing their concerns to your attention, you need to present solutions.  A problem may be forgiven easily by offering a small discount, or a coupon for a future service.  Provide the unhappy patron with two or more options as a solution to their problem so they feel empowered over the situation.  If customers are unreasonable in their demands, continue to look for a compromise and remain solution-oriented.

After the unhappy patron has agreed to a satisfactory compromise to solve his issue, you should take the extra time to follow up and make sure the customer was pleased with the effort and the solution you provided.  Leave your name and contact information to give the unhappy client a sense of control should they encounter more troubles in the future.  They may be more willing to voice their future concerns without becoming belligerent once they know you are there for them.  To make a lasting impression, do a little something extra beyond the agreed-upon solution such as sending the unhappy client a thank you note, or letter with an extra coupon inside.

In each case of an unhappy patron, try to see things from their perspective, and meet your patron’s needs as best you can while looking out for your business, too.  Be as honest as you can without getting too personal.  Make sure your clients know that you value their business even if you cannot fully meet their needs at this time.  Keep all your interactions professional and polite, and most patrons will understand.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at, call 877-723-2902 or check out our YouTube video.


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