Post-Purchase Dissonance: Dealing With Dissatisfied Customers

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone all the time. In any business, you may occasionally have to deal with unhappy customers. This can be a stressful situation, especially for new business owners, but a bit of preparation can make it easier to deal with.

Empathy

Ideally, when a customer approaches you with a complainant, you should strike an empathetic tone. Try to create the appearance of a partnership with statements such as “let’s talk about what happened” or “tell me why you’re upset.” To assure the client you understand and to validate their concerns, repeat what they have told you. Then, offer a solution.

Solutions

Depending on the complaint, you may wish to offer a refund or exchange for another product. If that is not feasible under the circumstances, you may want to offer to redo the work or give them a coupon for the next time they patronize your business. Unfortunately, in some cases, you may not be able to provide any compensation to the client. If you have met your legal obligations in terms of providing what was expected for the money that exchanged hands, you may simply need to advise the client that you have upheld your end of the deal and nothing can be done.

Online Reputation

An unsatisfied customer or the phone or in front of you at your shop is one thing, but an unsatisfied customer online is a whole other beast. To prevent complaints from going viral and affecting your business, you need to monitor your online reputation. Check social media accounts frequently, and have alerts sent to your phone when someone posts on your account.

Respond to complaints in a timely fashion — it’s important to address them before many people see them and to do so respectfully. For example, if someone complains about bad customer service on your social media page, apologize to them on the post, and offer a solution or invite them to contact you by direct message or over the phone.

Similarly, monitor reviews of your business or products on sites such as Yelp, and mediate complaints as needed. To help keep an eye on what others are saying about your company, set up a Google Alert for your name, business name, and any other relevant concepts. Then, you receive an email notification anytime anything appears with those keywords online. If it’s a complaint, you can reach out to the writer and attempt to resolve the situation.

Setting Terms

To manage client expectations and reduce confusion, set terms for returns and refunds, and post this information prominently on your website or shop. Having policies in place helps prevent dissatisfied customers complaining about workmanship or returning a product months after receiving it. Additionally, consider offering warranties for service work as well as products. This gives customers peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about failure and helps safeguard client happiness as well.

Satisfaction Surveys

Not every dissatisfied client is going to complain, but if you want to improve your business, you need to know how your clients feel. Send out satisfaction surveys on a regular basis. Use this information to drive your business to greater success.

References & Resources

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