How to Turn Angry Clients Into Brand Advocates?

Gayane Tamrazyan
How to make angry clients fall in love with you?

Any business, whether it is online or offline, is about communicating with people. Employees have to deal with clients who may dislike something in a company’s product or service. However, such people should be treated with gratitude, because they are a valuable and sometimes the only source of unbiased information. If you treat them with due cognisance, you can not only improve the company work, but also win over loyal customers or even advocates of your brand.

How to distinguish an unhappy client from a hater?

There are three categories of unhappy clients:

  • The first is the so-called “criticizers”. They criticize absolutely everything and in fact blackmail the company to obtain a discount or capitalize on a situation.
  • The second category is haters. They are distinguished by brand devaluation, insults, and provocations.
  • Finally, the third category is dissatisfied customers. Unlike “criticizers”, they tend to point out specific mistakes in the company’s work without demanding privileges in return. If their objections are handled in the right way, such people may become the most loyal customers of your brand.

The top management should communicate with unhappy customers for critical issues

Any organization has dissatisfied clients. They should not be let loose on managers or call centers in case of a financially challenging request. It is the company leaders who should deal with them. 

A dissatisfied customer is a mirror of the company, its precious resource. Such people are valuable because they give honest information about the company and suggest a better course of action and things that require immediate reaction.

Neither line managers nor call center employees will ever tell the manager that there are deficiencies within the company that should be eliminated. Therefore, communication with angry clients should take place at the top management level.

Of course, not all company executives are ready to hear criticism in their company address. On the other hand, who, if not them, should actually be in the know about what is wrong in the company?

This advice applies primarily to small and medium-sized businesses. But there are situations when even in large companies a dispute with a client reaches such a stage that the head has to intervene in it. Otherwise, the conflict may escalate into legal proceedings.

The most dangerous and frequently encountered group of clients is not the one that expresses its claims out loud, but the one that, seeing errors in the work of the company, does not say anything, but simply quietly refuses services. This means that the head of the organization will never know what the client did not like, and will not be able to fix it.

If clients point out mistakes, listen: they may be right

There was a case in our company when a bug occurred during development. Our customer addressed us to tell that something goes wrong with modification. One of our top managers personally got in touch with the client to clarify the request. She instructed our technical specialists to figure out the situation, and then personally got in touch with the client, apologized for the mistake and promised to deal with it. 

Here is an extract from the communication with the dissatisfied client (some details were omitted to keep customer privacy):

Dear (…),

Please let me introduce myself. My name is (…), I am a chief marketing officer at Simtech Development. My colleague has forwarded your email to me to find out this frustrating situation.

I totally understand and share your emotions about the service you have been given. In the custom development division we are working hard to maintain the high level of customer service and this is my high priority of work. Your case made me investigate the issue and find the cause of the problem.

I agree with you that it was very unprofessional from (…) side to keep you waiting for the reply during your communication. Besides the team would have done the task quicker if they had involved more resources from the Custom development division.

Unfortunately I am monitoring only the tasks and communication of the Custom development division so your case missed my sight.

Please accept apologies from Simtech Development and from me personally. Now your task is under my personal supervision. Please could you send your answers to our questions to finish the modification. It will be delivered within 3 days as promised. We can’t finish it without your reply. And we can install to your server the first part of your modification that is ready as soon as possible.

Additionally we agreed to an individual 30% discount for any next modifications in the Custom development division. 

Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me via my personal email (…). I will be happy to help.

The error was fixed and our client was pleased so much that she wrote a positive review. It’s amazing because she was initially angry. Now the SimtechDev team can be only grateful to this dissatisfied customer as she really helped us to improve.

Take responsibility and be ready to help

It’s quite often when clients are unhappy with the work of third-party developers and ask us to fix the mistakes they made. The cost of such services is much higher than development “from scratch”, since we need to first delete what third-party developers have done, and then complete the task itself. This is a double work and the client should be warned about it from the start, especially when comparing our offer with others.

Sometimes, our customers who turn to cheap developers receive incompletely completed work. Third-party developers simply do not know how to make this or that functionality, they do it superficially (“workarounds”), without taking into account the links with other modifications and the further scaling.

The quality of the code shown by some third-party developers (especially freelancers) often does not meet CS-Cart standards. After such a modification, it will be very difficult to perform even the simplest revision, since low-quality code affects the entire project. And the client pays for all this.

It may take time to find out which piece of code caused an error in the platform behaviour. If the question is urgent, our top managers handle the request to resolve it quickly.

I had the pleasure to work with Elena. She was so helpful and I felt very well taken care off right from the beginning. I had purchased a theme from another vendor to install into my multi-vendor cart, but there were things not working. The other vendor was not responsive and I was left with frustration. I reached out to Simtech and Elena identified what I needed and got the right team together to fix the bugs and make the changes needed. I would recommend getting your theme from Simtech right from the beginning, I would if I would have known, but they are also fully able to work with whatever you need help with. Great work Elena and thank your team!

Annette

I like working with your managers. They solved every problem I had. Everyone of them was always friendly and helpful. For the most projects the costs are very fair. The quality of work is very good. If something wasn’t up to my expectation, I could ask Mikhail and he helped me to make things better. So finally the quality always matches my expectations. I will recommend your company to my friends.

Guenter Windler

I have no problems at all with the Project Managers. Very helpful, attentive, fast response and solved all the issues. Keep up the good work. I am satisfied with my project deadlines, but the cost was a little bit higher than the budget I had. Quality was good but we did find some 3-4 issues after the release but they were resolved immediately – again thanks to the Manager and the developer. I might have another project with you.

Syed

This is a paradox, but, as a rule, dissatisfied customers become the most loyal brand advocates if they were treated with respect and helped to solve their problem.

The client needs to feel he is important, that he was not left alone with the problem, or forgotten. Some people just want extra attention and care. This proves once again that there is no need to fear dissatisfied customers. You need to talk to such people, then they become your loyal customers.

Recommendations to turn unhappy clients into brand advocates:

1 – Create the right expectations for your customers

When a brand advertises its product or services and exaggerates its capabilities, people form high expectations. And if a person does not get what he hoped for, he has questions.

It is very important not to create wrong expectations. How to do it? Just tell them the truth.

If we are talking, for example, about discounts, you do not need to write in small print what you do not want to mention. Better not to make such an offer at all. Our company does not practice such things, our principle is to be honest with people, to speak only the truth, to form exclusively correct expectations.

2 – Always meet the client’s needs

Our main mission is to always listen to customers and try to meet them halfway.

People who feel important to the company always come back and become its most valuable and loyal customers.

3 – Hire people who share your values and teach them how to work with tough customers.

Even at the interview stage, we say that the client is our top priority. Therefore, our employees are prepared in advance for the fact that they may have to perform non-trivial and ad hoc tasks. From some point of view, it may even be unprofitable for the company, but we always say: “This is our customer. If today we helped him, tomorrow he will come to us again”.

That’s being said, it is important that employees who interact with customers are prepared to deal with dissatisfied customers. For this, we organize special training within the company. They are conducted by our employees who have already proven their effectiveness.

The basic rule that we teach employees is to remain calm under all circumstances. The second thing we tell our colleagues about is never to argue with the customer. In addition, we always remind employees to speak politely with customers.

Practice shows: even if a person is on the edge, seeing a polite attitude, he calms down and begins to behave kindly.

And if his problem was solved quickly, correctly and without unnecessary questions, then there is a high probability that he will turn from a critic of the company into its supporter.

4 – Compensate the client for the inconvenience.

Give him an inexpensive but a useful gift. Presents always create a positive attitude towards the brand.

5 – Try to understand the situation before answering. 

Look for facts, involve experts to assess the facts and find out the reasons.

6 – Admit mistakes.

Accept the existence of a situation requiring clarification. 

7 – Describe the situation

Use hard facts (details, numbers and dates).

8 – Explain, don’t make excuses!

Explain the reasons for this situation (if possible). Do not escalate the situation! 

9 – Avoid negative vocabulary.

Instead of “mistake”, “rush”, “bug”, “error/mistake”, “problem”, etc., use  neutral phrases: current situation; the situation that has arisen; the question that has arisen; this fact, etc.

10 – Use the techniques of “emotional connection”.

For example: “Dear (…), I understand that the situation that has arisen puts you in jeopardy in the eyes of your clients”, “Mrs. (…), I am aware of what feelings and emotions you can experience in this situation. Please, believe, for me, it is extremely unpleasant either what is happening with … “.

11 – Tell about corrective measures.

Share what measures are being taken and in what time frame the result should be expected.

12 – Express regret. 

For example: “I am sorry that we made you wait”, “I am sincerely sorry that the situation has developed this way.”

13 – Apologize. 

For example: “Dear (…), I sincerely apologize for the current situation.”

14 – Express hope for further communication. 

For example: “We will try to avoid this in future”, “I will do my best to manage this issue.”

15 – Mention joint wins. 

For example: “Dear (…), I sincerely apologize for the current situation. I think you understand that the specificity of our work involves interaction of many departments. People working there can make mistakes. At the same time, the positive experience of our mutual cooperation allows me to hope for your understanding. “

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