How to Avoid Creating Disgruntled Customers

by Blackwood Impact Group

Having unhappy and disgruntled clients is probably a company’s worse nightmare. It can be challenging to effectively rectify whatever has gone wrong and rebuild your client’s trust in you. Unhappy clients tend to spread their discontent with your company faster than they spread their praise, whether by word of mouth or online. They can often take their business elsewhere. Sometimes, they can influence other clients to leave with them. Disgruntled customers are very bad for business. 

One of the best ways to deal with unhappy clients is to avoid creating them. If you examine client complaints, often the origins can be tied back to the business’s practices and procedures which encouraged, nurtured, or outright created the client’s malcontent. In this article, we share what your company can do to ensure you don’t develop dissatisfied clients and a few suggestions for rectifying the situation if you have.

Communicate Effectively During The Sales Process 

The best time to set your clients up for a full life-cycle of happiness with your company is at the beginning of the process before money is exchanged. The sales process is the first personal interaction prospects have with your business. Your salespeople are not only crucial for generating revenue, but they can influence the opinions your prospect forms about your company and services. Effective communication throughout the sales process can lay the foundation for happy clients.

To help prevent lousy customer experiences before they begin, be sure you have uninformed and duplicatable sales and fulfillment processes in place. Salespeople should be well versed in these processes. They should also demonstrate your company’s norms throughout the sales process. Your sales team should be managing the prospect’s expectations as well.

Sales team members should work tirelessly to understand the prospect’s scope of work. That will help to produce accurate pricing and quotes.  If you are conducting a B2C (Business to Consumer) transaction, make sure you are communicating any recurring charges or subscription fees up front. When customers have all pricing information from the beginning, it avoids surprises later on. Returning to the client to ask for more money or surprise credit card charges later in the process only invites their ire. 

It is essential that salespeople clearly communicate when they are going above and beyond for the client throughout the process. It will help build goodwill with the client. Clients are also aware of what they should and should not expect as they move forward and transition into the fulfillment stage.

Seamlessly Transitioning Clients To The Fulfillment Team

Once a prospect is ready to pay for their products or services, they leave the care of their salesperson. From an operational standpoint, your company should create a flow that officially hands off the client to the fulfillment team or project manager. Very often rocky transitions ignite clients’ frustrations. 

The salesperson should communicate to the fulfillment team what the customer is expecting. The scope of work should be clearly laid out. The client should not have to tell the fulfillment team what they paid for. If clients feel as if they are repeating themselves, that lays the groundwork for their dissatisfaction.

Likewise, the salesperson should let clients know what to expect in the next phase.  Salespeople should be able to explain the fulfillment process, so that client expectations are realistic.  Don’t set the other departments up to under-deliver in the client’s eyes. Clients should be aware of what is included in their service or product order, what the delivery times are, and more. 

Even communicating something as simple as the fulfillment team’s usual response time for emails and phone calls can go a long way. Customers can get used to reaching out to their salesperson and receiving a response from them in under an hour. However, if the fulfillment team has different norms, knowing that in advance will avoid the client’s annoyance in the future.

Deliver High-Quality Customer Service

Once the salesperson has successfully transitioned the client to the Project Manager, the ball is in the fulfillment team’s hands to maintain client satisfaction. The Project Manager, Consultants, Customer Service team members, and anyone else involved in the client’s project should have a game plan for how to keep the project on track and the client happy. 

Be sure to stick to the basics of providing excellent customer service. Adhere to agreed-upon timelines. Avoid re-scoping the project midway or introducing new services that require them to pay more (a.k.a. “scope creep”). Provide clients regular updates, so they feel a part of the process. Frequent communication can help spot and resolve potential issues early.

Sometimes, though, the best-laid plans go awry, and problems may occur. When challenges or delays arise, be quick to share the issues with the clients. Give them room to express their frustration or disappointment. It is important to show empathy and respect their feelings about the situation. Outlay your plan to correct and see where you can go above and beyond to show them your goodwill. It will go a long way towards regaining their trust.

If your team has been maintaining excellent communication throughout the process, it is highly possible that a small mistake or slight delay might not be met with too much anger. You would have been depositing a lot of goodwill with your client along the way. If that is the case, they may already trust that you will handle the situation swiftly and judiciously. 

Little Touches Go A Long Way 

Every company wants to keep attrition rates as low as possible or non-existent if it were feasible. Giving customers fantastic end-to-end experiences and service is critical to maintaining their happiness and their loyalty. But sometimes, it’s not the over the top errors that might cause them to flee to your competitors. “Studies have shown that 68% of customers leave a business relationship because of a perceived attitude of indifference on the part of the company. [1]” 

Little touches throughout the relationship which show you genuinely care about the health of their business go a very long way. So, seek ways to add value to what your clients are doing. Give them a referral or make an introduction that can benefit their business. Invite them to speak at a conference or event you are hosting. Sending a gift or handwritten notes, expressing your thanks for their business is always appreciated.

One final thought. While it is important to do your best for your clients, it is important that you maintain equal business stature with them. You don’t want customers to take advantage of you with unrealistic demands or by trying to get more services without paying extra. Neither do you want them to think you will bend over backward for their business. Always position yourself as your customer’s partner or as an extension of their team. They should never view you as their servant.  If you find that the process of pleasing one client is causing other clients and their projects to suffer, it might be time to reevaluate if that client is the right fit for your business. 

If your team has been experiencing more disgruntled customers than normal and you need help strategizing solutions, we can help. Reach out to us today for a no-obligation consultation.


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