Dealing With Dissatisfied Customers


It is a fact of business that at some stage, you will encounter a dissatisfied client. Even the most systemised and efficient practice is not immune to the client who thinks you are not providing value for money. While introducing service standards and endeavouring to manage expectations will minimise the number of dissatisfied clients, it is important to ensure you have programs in place that allow you to take responsibility and resolve the issue to limit the potential cost to your business.

In this article we look at ways to identify dissatisfied clients and provide tips on how to effectively deal with their issues. Dissatisfied clients cost your business money. Not only does it immediately affect your bottom line, but dissatisfied clients can cost you potential new clients. Some researchers suggest that each dissatisfied client is likely to tell 8 – 10+ people about their experience and the more dissatisfied clients you have, the more people are going to have a negative impression about your business.

Dissatisfaction arises for a number of reasons but it is generally because a client does not perceive value in your service. “Value” is calculated simply as: Value = Quality / Cost. In other words, a client perceives value when the quality of the service is greater than the cost. Introducing client satisfaction surveys will help in identifying dissatisfied clients and give you a strong indication of areas of improvement in your business. While this will capture the vocal clients, how do you identify those dissatisfied clients who don’t bother to complete the survey or just “vote with their feet” and don’t come back? A simple way to spot dissatisfied clients is to pay attention to the signals you are given such as heavy sighing, avoiding phone calls and letters or making sarcastic comments. Clients who are reluctant to interact with you and your team members are often unhappy with service but are reluctant to say anything directly.

Unfortunately, while these clients are reluctant to say anything to you, they are not so shy in saying it to their friends and family who will also happily pass on negative press. To stop this negative publicity, it becomes even more important to clearly focus on managing client expectations at the start of each job. A complaint resolution process will deal with issues after a complaint is made, but you and your team can deal with issues of dissatisfaction before they get to that point. Your prompt action will ensure you recover the situation and will, in many cases, turn this dissatisfied client into a loyal one who will actively refer you new business. We use a simple process to deal with issues of dissatisfaction before they become complaints:

  • Deal with the issue as soon as you spot the clue
  • In a non confrontational way, ask the client if there is an issue e.g. “You seem a bit hesitant, what concerns do you have?”
  • Then take a L.E.A.P!
  • Listen to their concerns
  • Empathise with their issues in a non condescending manner
  • Acknowledge their concerns (and if appropriate, apologise)
  • Provide a solution to address their concern

Encouraging your staff to manage expectations and address dissatisfaction before it turns into a complaint will ensure you have happy clients who actively promote your business. Remember that a client who complains is a great reminder of ways you can improve.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.
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