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Why Are Customers Unhappy?

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angrycustomerHaving been in the customer service industry for 25+ years, I’ve heard, seen, attended and listened to various programs/seminars regarding “how to handle an angry customer”. Most often, these programs/seminars are very informative and provide excellent guidance on dealing with a not so happy customer. My question has always been – Why is the customer unhappy and is there anything that can be done to diminish the number of unhappy customers? My instincts say take a proactive stance in the battle to eliminate unhappy customers. Here are a few ways to do so.

Why Are Customers Unhappy? Is there a pattern to the reasons that customers are unhappy? Is anyone in your organization tracking these reasons? It’s been my experience that if you have one customer complaining about an issue or situation, more than likely there are others complaining about the same things. During one call center stint, it was common for customers on certain billing cycles to experience problems with their bills – improper amounts, additional charges, etc. We all know that this issue will certainly create angry customers and additional phone calls. While it’s important for the agents to be equipped with “how to handle angry customers” skills, how about determining what’s causing the “angry customer” issues. Identify external and internal issues that might be contributing to your customers’ unhappiness with your organization. Doing so will surely diminish or even eliminate the need for the customers to call and for customer service personnel to exercise their “how to handle angry customers” skills for these particular issues. Oh yeah, be sure that your customer facing personnel are equipped with the proper customer interaction soft skills – voice tone, empathy, body language, etc. – so that they do not inadvertently create an angry customer!

Why Are Front Line Personnel Unhappy? – It’s been my experience that unhappy employees are an indicator that there may be organizational issues that negatively impact customers. Customer facing employees become frustrated and angry when it appears no one is interested in addressing issues which contribute to the creation of angry customers. Check with your customer facing employees regarding their experiences when dealing with customers. Are processes both customer and employee friendly? Is the training received sufficient to allow for successful customer interactions? Can employees count on the “system” functioning properly so that they can provide a great customer experience therefore preventing the need to exercise their “how to handle angry customers” skills? Take the time to get and act upon feedback provided by customer facing employees. You might be surprised by how doing so can assist in reducing the number of angry customers for your organization.

How Many Credits or Refunds Are You Issuing?  – Another possible indicator of angry customers is the amount of products/services given away, account credits or refunds issued by your organization. Is anyone attaching a reason for these actions? Does your organization’s system allow for logging the reasons for refunds, account credits or other actions taken to appease angry customers? It’s important to monitor these areas as they may be an indicator that customers are not happy with your products or services. Allow your customer facing employees the ability to provide reasons for taking these actions. Analyze these reasons and identify ways to prevent their continuance. Determine how much these refunds, credits or provision of goods/services costs your organization. Spend time with customer facing personnel during their interactions with angry customers to get first hand experience of what appeasement actions are utilized.  One’s willingness to take these steps will surely lead to a decrease in the number of angry customers.

It’s a great idea to equip customer facing personnel with “how to handle angry customers” skills. Doing so gives them the confidence to properly handle the situation. Take an additional step by proactively identifying and addressing issues which contribute to the number of angry customers your customer facing personnel encounter. I can guarantee both customers and employees will love you for that!

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Errol Allen

Speaker, author and consultant Errol Allen has over 25 years of hands – on experience in the customer service industry including 13 years in a management role. Errol has worked in several industries within the service sector including security systems, newspaper, software, cable television and insurance. Having held positions as an Internal Customer Service Consultant, Call Center Quality Manager and Operations Analyst, Errol understands that a ”systems” orientation is crucial to providing excellent customer service.

He is experienced in facilitating interdepartmental process improvement projects to insure efficient service delivery to both internal and external customers. Errol has also designed and implemented customer service training programs for the “front line” associate to insure employee confidence when interacting with customers. He is a member of the American Society of Quality, which promotes the practical application of quality knowledge across multiple industries.

Errol shares his customer service expertise as a contributing writer for Small Business Today Magazine and D-Mars Business Journal and is the publisher of “Now That’s Customer Service!”, a free online monthly newsletter where he offers customer service tips and real life customer service stories. In his quest to acknowledge the receipt of great customer service, Errol personally awards his “Now That’s Customer Service! award to deserving employees or companies. An avid blogger, his articles have been published in several online magazines including Customer Service Manager and Customer Experience Magazine of the UK. He is also a workshop leader at the University of Houston’s Small Business Development Center. Get your copy of Errol’s new book – “Keys To Delivering Amazing Customer Service!”

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