Why you need to embrace your unhappy customers

Camille Rasmussen - April 21, 2017

When you’re looking for a good customer reference, it’s common to only look to your happiest customers—you don’t want to highlight a customer with negative things to say about your product, right?

Unfortunately, reference volunteers are often few and far between. The result is an excessive dependence on a handful of marquee clients who you go to time and time again for testimonials, case studies, and phone references. But what happens if they burn out?

This post explores why your current approach might not be enough—and why you should avoid sweeping your unhappy customers under the rug.

Every customer deserves to be heard

Previously, we wrote about common challenges businesses face in getting customers to go on the record, and explored a few options to get more testimonials for your marketing activities.

One of the tips we mentioned is to focus on increasing your pool of happy customers by converting more of your unhappy customers (your passives and detractors, if you’re using Net Promoter Score).

And how do you go about this?

Unsurprisingly, it starts with figuring out why your customers are unhappy. Maybe they’re dissatisfied because the product isn’t meeting their expectations or they need more robust features. Or maybe their experience with your customer support team has been unhelpful or even frustrating. But you’ll never know what the issue is if you don’t ask. To improve your customer satisfaction, you need to start by listening to your customers.

We recently spoke with Zendesk’s Head of Customer Programs, Maria Jiang, to learn how her team turned their customer reference program around by embracing feedback from everyone, including unhappy customers, and in the process recruited over 1,000 customer references.

Watch the full webinar featuring Jiang and our own Director of Customer Success, Lauren Locke-Paddon, to get 4 tips to turn silent customers and detractors into vocal advocates >

TechValidate + Zendesk Webinar: 4 tips to turn silent customers into your most vocal advocates

One of the key ways Zendesk achieved such a high level of success with their customer reference program was by casting a wider net and encouraging genuine feedback—whether it’s positive or critical. By giving every customer a voice, Zendesk not only got a direct line to tons of great testimonials to use in their marketing materials, but they also learned what they could be doing better.

Turn detractors into advocates

Customer advocacy doesn’t have to be all about what you can get out of your customers. It should be a two-way street. You need your customers’ input to deliver to their expectations, and at the same time every customer wants their thoughts to be heard, considered, and addressed. Plus, focusing on building trust and fostering long-term relationships can make a world of difference in customers’ satisfaction with your company and can even help you win over the dissatisfied.

So learn to embrace feedback. Develop a system where customers not only have a podium to voice their opinions, but also feel empowered to tell the complete and honest story. And then follow through by using feedback to guide product innovation, plan marketing initiatives, and identify trends and changing industry needs.

Looking to improve your customer satisfaction? Check out our new product for customer satisfaction, SurveyMonkey CX >>

Camille Rasmussen

Camille Rasmussen is the Content Marketing Manager at TechValidate. She studied Journalism at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) and has over 6 years experience in marketing communications + content. When she's not writing, she's usually trying out new restaurants around town or exploring the beautiful parks, hikes, and beaches the bay area has to offer.

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