It’s easy to be nice to a good customer, one that does business with you, one that buys from you often. It’s the complaining customer that you need to be able to handle and turn them into good customers, and this is not easy. It’s been said however through various studies that on average, twenty-six unhappy customers won’t complain for every one who will.

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but the odds that you’re even becoming aware of a customer complaining is a good start. Yet each of these twenty-six unhappy customers will tell at least 4 other people verbally not to shop at your store. (And that’s not counting social media.) These customers will bad-mouth you, they will dramatize the bad experience, color it with hypothetical hyperbole and exaggerate the experience. Rude, stupid, incompetent, idiotic will probably be among some of the words used to describe your store and its employees.

This means that every complaint you hear will represent a great number of negative impressions.

So here’s a question for you?

How many people should have to complain before you take action? And how do you take action?

By the time you hear a complaint three times, you can count on the problem more than likely has been mentioned to other people thinking about shopping at your place of business.

Fact: It costs five times as much money to attract a new customer as it costs to keep an old one.

Fact: Ninety-one percent of your unhappy customers will never buy from you again.


However, if you learn the art of turning your customers’ complaints into a great customer experience, a good portion of them will stay with you and turn into your best customers.


Because all a customer wants is to have a problem solved, or a complaint heard.

There is clear evidence that customers make their financial decisions based on how easy it is to work with companies.

What should you do when you hear customer complain?

The worst thing you can do is try to defend your stores’ policy. The one thing that will piss a customer off more than ever is if you put your store’s policy over their complaint.

“I’m sorry that’s our policy.”

You need to communicate with an attitude that says, “I need to understand the problem so I can fix it and make you happy.”

As one customer puts it:

“If I don’t get the level of service I’m expecting, I don’t shop there anymore.”

And another customer says…

 “I want to know that the business where I shop has my back. If something goes wrong, I want them to solve the problem for me, not create new problems on top of my original one.”

If you start viewing the experience through the customer’s point of view it can open up a whole new perspective. Here are three questions to ask that will immediately get angry customers to relax and feel as if you’re taking an interest in their problem.

  1. “Tell me what happened?” By asking this question you show genuine concern. You allow that customer to vent their frustration. This will let the air out of their angry balloon. Do your best to understand the customer’s expectations before you attempt to correct the problem.
  2. “That should have never happened, will you accept my apology?” Telling your customer that should have never happened expresses to them that they are right and puts you on their side. By asking them to accept your apology lowers their defenses and calms them down. Allow them to win.
  3. “What can I do to make it right?” Or explain to them how you will take responsibility and what you are going to do to make it right. This will calm even the most angriest customer. If the customer feels that you are giving them your full attention to the problem, they will calm down almost immediately.

Now go find unhappy customers and turn their day around.

****Please Note… Do not end your conversation with that angry customer by giving them a cheap discount next time they come in to your store to shop. A customer may view that as if you’re trying to buy your way out of the problem. Give them something free for the inconvenience. A free gift shows them you care. Then if you have his/her address send them a personal thank you card.