How to Turn Unhappy Customers Into Happy Customers

As long as you're in business, there'll always be customers who will sometimes feel aggrieved. I have been on the receiving end of verbal abuse from customers and I have also been an unhappy customer.

PwC found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. Does that scare you?

A happy man showing the thumbs-up sign
Happy man

It is more expensive to get new customers than retain existing ones, so impeccable customer service is non-negotiable. However, sometimes in your quest to keep all your customers happy, there'll always be some who will feel unhappy.

Here are some ways you can turn unhappy customers into brand advocates.

Show empathy

"Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Having empathy makes you be able to recognize emotions in other people, and to understand their perspectives in a situation."

This should not be mistaken to necessarily mean agreeing with the customers, it simply means you understand how they feel. With this, you'll be able to relate with them on a more personal level.

Empathy makes it easier to handle the most difficult customers and situations. Once you are faced with a challenging situation, put yourself in the customer's shoes and solve the matter from the customer's perspective. You will gain loyalty because the customers know that you listen and care for them.

Make a follow-up

Following up shows that you care and value your customers, and may even make them change their negative thoughts about your business. You have an opportunity to continue making it right by making a call, sending an email, or visiting the resentful customers - if possible.

Remember to apologize and personalize your conversation by using the customer's name. Acknowledge their unhappiness honestly, and make it clear that you're working towards a clear and quick solution. You will notice that the customers will be very appreciative and willing to continue doing business with you.

Learn from the experience

Take that opportunity to learn and improve your customer service experience. Experience is known to be the best teacher. Complaints sometimes are signs that something somewhere is not right.

Common customer complaints can reveal where your business needs work, and give you direction so that you can continually improve your product/service. This will help you generate a more pleasant outcome resulting in the needed conversion of turning unhappy customers into satisfied and happy ones.

Have a two-way conversation

Two people shaking hands as a show of agreement
People shaking hands

This is a type of dialogue where the company speaks and listens to its customers. You should never dominate the narrative while handling an unhappy customer. Show that you listen, understand, and care about their concerns on a human level, whether it is on social media platforms, face-to-face, or any other channel of communication that you use.

The best way to have a two-way conversation is to start by agreeing with them, then after you establish that you understand them, they will be much more receptive to being flexible on how the matter is resolved.

Actions speak louder than words

I recently purchased some pixel oranges from a grocery shop, but two of them were infested with worms. I called the shop owner to let her know the situation and she promised to replace the oranges. The moment she declared that she was going to replace the oranges I instantly moved from being an unhappy customer to a happy one. However, the story does not end well because she never fulfilled her promise. I have never gone back to that shop.

If you tell your customers that you will rectify a problem that made them unhappy - do it! If it was a phone call that took long to be answered or an email that was never responded to, improve on that. If it means replacing an item that was faulty then so be it!


Loyal customers pass on positive recommendations about their favorite brands to their friends and relatives. Building a long-term business relationship with a new customer is more costly than cultivating the loyalty of an existing customer.

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