Unhappy customers – what’s the cost?

May 2, 2019

What’s the difference between a dissatisfied customer and an unhappy or angry customer?

A dissatisfied customer is likely to feel frustrated or annoyed about an aspect of your service. Service delivery may have been a bit slow. Or a minor mistake was made. The incident may be quickly resolved and soon forgotten. An unhappy customer, however, will not be easily placated. They have the potential to do real damage to your brand.  

As with the difference between a satisfied and happy customer, it’s about the emotional connection. Just as an emotionally engaged and happy customer is a great benefit to your business, unhappy customers are a threat to your business. They will vent their dissatisfaction to friends and family. Leave damning reviews on social media and forums.

Not only will you lose their business. You will lose the business from other potential customers.

Dissatisfied versus unhappy or angry customers

An unhappy or dissatisfied customer have one thing in common – they are both bad for your business. Dissatisfied customers will be more passive. Their feelings are less intense and short lived. They are unlikely to complain or let you know they are dissatisfied. If they take any action it’s likely to be that they won’t use your products or services again. They may also tell a number of friends about their experience.

Angry customers will let you and the rest of the world know their feelings. They will leave angry one star reviews on Google and Facebook. They will take any opportunity they can to complain about your business and explain why you are hopeless.

From dissatisfaction to anger

Most dissatisfied customers can be handled with an apology and a commitment to rectify the mistake that was made. However, if the same problem, despite the apologies, keeps happening, the minor feelings of annoyance or frustration will deepen. Instead of extreme dissatisfaction, customers will start feeling betrayed by the business from promises constantly being broken.

Feelings of betrayal will turn to anger. Angry Customers will respond strongly and in many cases seek to punish the business.

The costs

The costs to a business from dissatisfied customers is enormous. Research shows a typical business hears from just 4 percent of its dissatisfied customers—and of those 96 percent who never voice complaints, 91 percent will never come back. According to research from Vision Critical businesses across the world are losing trillions of dollars due to dissatisfied and unhappy customers.

It’s not possible to keep every customer constantly happy and satisfied. Mistakes will happen. Miscommunications will happen. It’s how you handle those mistakes and how well you keep the promises you make to customers that will make them happy or make them feel betrayed.