Turn Unhappy Customers into Your Advocates

Unhappy customers are a part of life for any business, but they can also be a valuable resource. Every unhappy customer presents an opportunity for you to address the situation and convert them from someone having a problem to a loyal brand ambassador.

Customer retention is a critical component of your business success, so it's essential to do everything you can to turn a negative situation around. A recent New Voice Media study shows that 91% of people will take action after a negative experience with a business. This can be never using that business again, posting a negative online review, or even informing the media. The same study showed that 70% of people would be more loyal after a positive experience, and 65% would recommend the company to others.  

It pays to address the concerns of unhappy customers and work to turn their experience into a positive one.

But how exactly do you do that, especially when unhappy customers can be angry, unpleasant or even mean?

Here are 8 steps to turning an unhappy customer into a happy one. 

Make it easy to contact you. The last thing any customer wants when they need to speak with you is to hunt for your phone number. Make sure it's prominently displayed on your website and all of your printed materials. It's also a good idea to provide alternate methods to contact you, including via email and digital message.

If you’re unavailable when contacted, respond as quickly as possible. The more time that passes between the initial contact and your response, the more agitated the customer may become.

Make your customer feel heard. No one wants to feel ignored. Take the time to listen to a customer’s complaint and allow them to vent for a few minutes at the start of the conversation. Listen carefully and take notes about important points they address and then calmly repeat their concerns back to them.

Gather as much information as you can, including the names of everyone involved, when the situation took place, and specific details about the event. If a customer feels like you care, they’re more likely to want to work with you in the future.

Be empathetic. Try to step into their shoes and see the situation from their perspective. What you might not see as a big problem can be incredibly frustrating or inconvenient for them. Thank them for sharing the experience with you and then communicate your empathy and understanding: “I can see why this situation is upsetting” or “I’m sorry you had that experience.”

Above all, don’t disagree right away or be adversarial in your conversation. Remain respectful throughout the interaction.

Ask what they want. Sometimes all a customer wants is to be heard and receive a promise that the situation won’t be repeated. Sometimes they won’t be satisfied with anything less than their money back. Ask them what solution they are looking for.

Take action. Once you know about the problem, do everything you can to fix the situation for the customer. Go out of your way to accommodate their needs if it is reasonable and within your power.

If you have to do some investigating before you address the problem, give the customer a timeframe of when they will hear back from you and then stick to it.

Keep in mind that failing to fix a situation may cost you far more than a lost customer in the long run. Inaction or poor action can lead to negative public reviews and a warning off of potential customers.

Follow up. After you have taken action to address the customer’s problem, check back to make sure they are satisfied. Make sure they know you care about their concerns and are working to ensure the situation is not repeated.

Use the complaint as an opportunity for improvement. Sometimes complaints uncover issues that will occur again unless you address them. If the problem is unprofessional conduct by a technician, you may need to engage in retraining. If technicians aren’t arriving on time, the PestRoutes Smart Routing feature can help you maximize route efficiency, leading to fewer delays and more customers served. If billing and collection issues are the cause of the problem, PestRoutes can help with a convenient auto pay feature and easy-to-use customer portal.

Empower employees to solve problems. Sometimes technicians may be able to solve a customer issue before the problem escalates. Make sure employees know that they can solve some issues right when they encounter them, making for happier, more satisfied customers.

When an unhappy customer is made into a happy customer, their loyalty and likelihood of recommending you to a friend will be stronger than ever.

Download the Checklist to Keep Retention on Track

About PestRoutes


PestRoutes is a complete, end-to-end office management software specifically designed for pest control companies. PestRoutes takes your office to the cloud with:

  • Completely Paperless Solutions
  • iPad, iPhone, and Android Apps
  • Intelligent Routing and Route Optimization
  • Automatic SMS, Email, and Voice Reminders
  • Self Sign Up for new Customers
  • Online Reviews / Reputation Management
  • Painless Billing and Collections
  • Online Customer Portals
  • PLUS MUCH MORE!

Learn More About PestRoutes!