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A Customer Is Upset – Now What?

Written by: Kimberly Viera, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Kimberly Viera

It’s going to happen sooner or later: a customer or client is going to be upset. In some cases, you may screw up and several customers will get upset. In this day and age, especially with social media, you need to stay on top of these kinds of situations before they blow up into a public relationships nightmare.

Unhappy and disappointed customer giving low rating and negative feedback in survey.

What kind of things tend to tick clients and customers off?

  • Poor Communication: Lack of clear and timely communication can lead to frustration. This includes not providing necessary information, failing to respond promptly, or not being transparent.

  • Unmet Expectations: When customers have specific expectations about a product or service and those expectations aren't met, it can lead to dissatisfaction.

  • Product or Service Quality Issues: If a product or service doesn't live up to what was promised in terms of quality, performance, or functionality, customers are likely to feel cheated.

  • Delays or Long Wait Times: Long wait times for services or delayed delivery of products generally irritate people, leaving them with a negative experience.

  • Rudeness or Poor Customer Service: Slow, rude, or unhelpful interactions with customer service representatives can be a major source of offense. Customers expect to be treated with respect and courtesy.

  • Billing or Pricing Disputes: Discrepancies or errors in billing, unexpected charges, or unclear pricing can lead to distrust.

  • Lack of Availability or Accessibility: If a product or service isn't readily available when a customer needs it, or if it's not accessible to people with disabilities.

  • Misinformation or False Advertising: If a customer feels they were misled about a product's capabilities or benefits they may feel lied to.

  • Inadequate Problem Resolution: When a customer has an issue or complaint, they expect it to be addressed promptly and effectively. If the resolution is unsatisfactory, it can leave them feeling angry.

  • Lack of Empathy or Understanding: Failing to empathize with a customer's situation or not understanding their needs.

So how do you resolve these sorts of negative situations? By following these tips…


The first thing to do is apologize. Sincerely. This includes:

  • Apologizing directly.

  • Taking responsibility for the problem. Don’t try to blame anyone or anything else. (Especially the customer.) Don’t make excuses.

  • Acknowledge the frustration you’ve caused.

  • Demonstrate that you understand why the customer is upset. You can often do this by mirroring their emotions and language back to them while discussing the problem.

Make it right

After you accept responsibility, the next thing you need to do is fix the situation. How you make it right depends on what happened and how upset the customer is. Examples of ways to make it right:

  • Sometimes an apology (and assurance it won’t happen again) is enough

  • Let them fully explain how they feel (they need to feel heard and empathized with)

  • Exchange a dissatisfying product

  • Refund a product or service

  • Offer freebies/gift cards

  • Offer discounts on future purchases

Note: It’s a good idea to preemptively offer refunds and freebies BEFORE the upset customer asks for them. This gesture tends to create goodwill.

Ask what else you can do

After you’ve apologized and made it right, ask your customer if there is anything else you can do. They often know exactly what they want you to do that would make them feel better about the situation. Listen carefully to what your customer tells you and follow through on their suggestion where you can.

This is a small but very powerful gesture. It can make your customer feel “heard” (which will make them feel better about the situation) and if you are able to do whatever the customer suggests, you are able to almost instantly right their wrong. You may even be able to delight your previously upset customer and leave them feeling great about the experience.

Consider your public response carefully

If the situation has blown up publicly, such as on your blog or on social media, don’t do anything until you’re thinking calmly and rationally. It’s also a good idea to bring in a neutral third party to help you draft a response. Better yet, bring in a team of people to help you brainstorm and draft a response, as a team is better able to see your blind spots, and how a public response could backfire.

+ One more tip

To avoid disappointing your clients and customers, don’t make promises that you’re not 100% capable of keeping. For example, let’s suppose you’ve promised your customers that you’re going to give them a free bonus video next week. And let’s suppose you’re making this promise before the video is actually complete.

That’s a mistake. An illness or other unforeseen event (on your behalf or even a freelancer) could easily throw the project off schedule. If you promise something, be sure you already have in hand whatever it is that you’re promising to your customers and prospects. This small step, along with the other customer care tips you just discovered, will go a long way in helping you preserve your reputation.

Want to know more about creating amazing customer and client experiences?

Come and discover how to delight each and every one of them, each and every time.

Follow me on Facebook and visit my website for more info!

Kimberly Viera Brainz Magazine

Kimberly Viera, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kimberly Viera is on a mission to help every woman become financially independent and gain control over her life by starting an online business. As the founder of JoinTheEveolution, she helps women build transformational coaching and wellness businesses that earn them a sustainable living within a year while giving them the time and lifestyle freedom they've been dreaming of. Stop Letting Things Happen. Start Making Them Happen. Join the Evolution.



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