If you need to restore customer satisfaction, it’s likely that you may have unfortunately failed your customers in some way.

It may be that your company’s customer service has failed to meet the expectations of your customer, and they feel mistreated or unappreciated.

Or could it be your service or product simply not doing what you’ve advertised? An issue with billing? costing customers time and/or money? or implementation failing to go smoothly?

McKinsey found that customers who are unhappy will tell between 9 and 15 people about their bad experience, and 13% of these unhappy customers will talk about this experience with more than 20 people.

It also takes 12 positive experiences for companies to make up for one negative experience. A survey by American Express found that a huge 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase they were intending to make due to a negative customer experience.

This can greatly affect the reputation of your business, and since customer satisfaction is linked to repeat purchases and increased revenue, it should be your top priority.

It’s also important to note that a typical business will only hear from 4% of the customers who are disappointed. People are busy, and 96% won’t say anything, while 91% will simply never come back.

Turn that frown upside down

The good news? It’s possible to resolve the problem and make a customer feel appreciated if handled the right way. In fact, 70% of unhappy customers who have their issues resolved in their favour say they will return. This means that you can use the customer’s negative experience to build customer loyalty and show them you care.

Here are some ways to restore customer satisfaction and turn a negative experience into an opportunity to create a happy and loyal customer:

1. Be courteous

The first step is to ensure that your employees are treating all customers with dignity and respect. There’s little point in solving a customer’s problem if they’re being treated rudely or indifferently, since the relationship will still be negatively impacted in the process.

Business owners don’t redeem themselves in the eyes of their customers simply by fixing a problem, but instead do so by taking the customer’s emotional needs into account throughout the resolution process.

2. Apologise

This seems obvious, but many businesses fail to apologise to their customers for the bad experience that they’ve had.

A simple “I’m very sorry that this has happened to you Mrs Smith, and I’m going to make sure this is quickly sorted out”, will go a long way to rebuilding trust.

Research by Gallup found that genuine apologies can strengthen the emotional bond that a customer has with a company, meaning they’re actually more emotionally connected with the business than customers who never had a negative experience.

Even when your business isn’t at fault, and the problem is because of a misunderstanding on the customer’s part, it’s important to still apologise so that the customer can feel that your company cares.

3. Acknowledge the problem

Customers who have had a problem with your company are naturally frustrated, and often want an opportunity to vent and tell you or your employees how this problem has made their life harder.

It’s crucial that you teach staff to give customers this opportunity and actively listen to what the customer is saying, putting themselves in the customer’s shoes.

Giving customers a believable, clear explanation about why the problem happened can also go a long way towards mollifying them.

4. Immediately handle the issue

Customers who have their problems resolved the first time they contact a company will improve their perception of that company. A study by TARP, Inc. found that when it came to customer complaints, 95% of those customers would stay loyal if their complaint was dealt with sufficiently during the first contact. This dropped to 70% if it took more than one contact for the complaint to be resolved.

If the customer service team can’t give customers a resolution immediately, it’s important that they let the customer know that they’re handling the situation and advise them of the steps they’re taking to get it sorted. The longer it takes for issues to be resolved, the more annoyed customers get, and the greater their perception of unfair treatment.

5. Provide compensation

When your company is at fault, providing some compensation in the form of product samples, coupons, gift cards, refunds, free merchandise, discounts or something similar, can delight your customer and increase the chances that they’ll tell others about this positive experience.

A gift voucher can also ensure that the customer returns again, ensuring that you have another opportunity to wow them with excellent customer service.