Techniques to retain your dissatisfied customers while transforming them into brand loyalists.

Today’s tech-savvy customers have huge expectations. They expect to find the information on products and services they want, when they want it. They expect prompt and consistent treatment from customer service reps across every channel—whether it’s during a phone call, at a branch location, or in an online chat.

If your reps fail to meet any of these expectations, your customers can dash off a tweet or a Facebook post and start a social media maelstrom for your company. Chances are, they will tell others about their bad experience. Consumer research shows that customers are two times more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones. And, the social web makes that all too easy to do.

So, how do you keep customers happy in today’s always-connected world?

Why You’re Still Losing Unhappy Customers

Let’s start with some good: many companies have already taken a first critical step to retaining dissatisfied customers. They’ve implemented post-interaction surveys to solicit fresh insights from customers on their actual experience with front line employees. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but there is so much more you can do.

Simple survey technologies do not do much more than collect data. There’s a serious lag between when a customer registers a negative response and when that data is available to a response or care team. In that time, customer sentiment is formed and the longer it goes the worse it may get. The customer is likely to defect to another brand and tell friends and family about their disappointing experience with their company.

Another problem: many organizations are still only reviewing aggregate customer survey response data at a company-wide or, perhaps, a regional level.

They aren’t drilling down to the metrics that matter. How are specific sites or call centers performing? How are individual reps doing? The result: those companies have no ability to remedy service problems or incentivize performance improvements.

In today’s world, those slow-moving customer services approaches just don’t make the grade. You need the ability to have up-to-the-minute insights on which customers are leaving poor feedback and how your team is working together to resolve those challenges.

There’s a benefit to improving customer experiences. Potentially a very big one. Research has shown that a mere 10% improvement in a company’s customer experience score can lead to more than $1 billion in revenue increases and other business benefits.

Want to improve your unhappy customers experience? Sky Creek recommends these five proven steps.

1) Know Which Customers Leave Negative Survey Scores

If your customer is taking the time to leave feedback, that information is like gold to your company. You can no longer wait days or week for a roll-up of customer survey results and pat yourself on the back if the numbers look good. You have to assess and act on negative customer feedback—right away.

If you don’t take corrective steps to address negative customer feedback, you could be embroiled in a big social media mess. Consumer research reveals that 47% of people share bad customer experiences via social media.

Fortunately, you can do something. Today’s customer experience leaders are implementing advanced solutions that give them real-time insight on customer survey responses. These solutions provide much more than a company-wide aggregate. They can give you insights at any level—even down to the individual rep or branch location.

What does that mean? Within minutes of a customer leaving negative feedback, you can know and identify corrective actions. You can also take steps to coach the rep with whom your customer interacted to educate your employee on different service approaches to avoid a repeat.

2) Design Approaches to Follow Up with Unhappy Customers

After you implement a system that spotlights negative customers, you have to do something with that critical data. You can’t let that high-value insight fall through the cracks and lose a customer. And chances are, you could. Research reveals that 96% of consumers have ceased doing business with a company after a poor customer service experience.

The key to addressing negative customer experiences promptly is advance planning. You need to have practices in place to address poor customer experiences. You also need to have specific personnel trained to respond when customers leave negative feedback, and ideally these teams are dedicated to performing these customer followups across the organization.

To construct a negative customer feedback remediation plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do we call or email a customer right away to gain more information about the negative experience?
  • Do we offer a discount or other incentive to retain the customer’s business?
  • How often do we reach out, and via which channels?

Research has shown that your first resolution attempt makes a big impact on customers. In fact, 70% of unhappy customers say they would stay with a brand that resolves their issues with one interaction. That means you put a strong plan in place, and skilled customer response professionals to retain dissatisfied customers.

3) Track Multiple Customer Resolution Attempts

You may get lucky and resolve your customer’s concern on the first attempt. However, you need to have a multi-follow-up plan in place—just in case. You should have strategies to reach your dissatisfied customers via multiple channels, such as phone, voice, or text.

Even if you’ve resolved the issue that caused your customer to leave negative survey feedback, you likely need follow-up contacts to help strengthen the now-tenuous relationship. Why? It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one.

Multi-layered negative feedback resolution can get tricky, unless you have an underlying system that tracks every customer contact attempt. Repeated messages that add no new valuable information is likely to upset your already-frustrated customer. Multiple attempts at outreach via the wrong channel or at bad times can be a huge turn off. You need to be on-top of your game and have a robust customer contact solution to keep unhappy customers.

4) Coordinate Resolution across Your Entire Service Model

When you’re working to retain unhappy customers, current resolution data needs to be available to all your front-line service representatives. At this sensitive stage in your relationship with your customer, you can’t afford any missteps. Repeated messages or mixed signals between reps can make render customer retention effort ineffectual.

You have to keep tabs on customer resolution outreach by every rep, across every channel, throughout your entire company. That means implementing a robust customer contact and customer experience solution that provides up-to-the-minute data on customer interactions.

5) Add Human-Rated Sentiment Analysis for Deeper Insight

A truly effective customer survey requires more than just numbers and statistics. It needs opportunities for customers to leave open-ended feedback. You must empower your customers to provide their true thoughts on your company—in their own words.

Of course, collecting open-ended feedback is just one phase of the puzzle. You also have to evaluate that feedback, and follow up on it. While you can find a computer program to analyze the words your customers speak, only a human being can truly understand the meaning behind your customers’ words.

Human-rated sentiment analysis is the only way to understand subtle nuances—such as voice volume, inflections, word choices, and more—that reveal a customer’s true perception about you. You may find that a customer who speaks good words may be harboring negative feelings that are clear in his or her tone.

Getting it Right: Turning Dissatisfied Customers into Brand Loyalists

In today’s competitive world, you can no longer avoid addressing the issue of negative customer feedback head on. You have to take proactive steps to retain those customers before they defect to another brand and spread negative sentiment about your company on social media.

Effectively addressing dissatisfied customers requires a strong resolution plan backed up by advanced customer experience technology. There’s a big upside to getting it right: if you effectively resolve a dissatisfied customer’s complaint, that customer is more likely to remain loyal—even become a brand advocate.

Imagine all those customers singing your praises on social media instead of registering their dissatisfaction. It really can happen if you identify and address negative customer survey feedback promptly and professionally across your entire enterprise.