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  • Writer's picturePeggy Amelung

Bad experiences scare away customers faster than you think

Updated: May 13, 2021

Do cost-cutting measures, ever-changing service and opening hours and new requirements leave traces on customer satisfaction? Is the customer experience suffering and if so, how do you best deal with it? Get important insights on how you can turn every dissatisfied customer into a loyal brand ambassador, despite Corona.

Especially in times of crisis, it is particularly important to be close to the customer, to attend to their concerns and, above all, to pick up on nuances. After all, 68 percent of all customers say they are dissatisfied because of a negative customer experience. 48 percent would even pay a higher price for top customer experiences according to the SAS study.

The experiences that customers associate with brands are often not the ones that the entrepreneur assumes through his glasses. They lack the courage to stimulate concrete and consistent feedback at as many touch points along the customer journey as possible. Especially now in the crisis, companies are distracted with internal processes, lose sight of the customer and avoid addressing them directly. This is also due to their own uncertainty.

Make the customer experience a strategy in the company

A dissatisfied customer experience quickly leads to a drop in sales, loss of reputation, and and prevents the growth of new customers. Customers are more demanding and sensitive to the experience they have with a brand. Today more than ever. They expect a professional approach to complaints instead of apologies and justifications. This also applies to the argument:

We are in a pandemic.

Which services are currently not available to the customer and how is it communicated to the customer without disappointing him? Quite simple: always honest, up-to-date and authentic within the framework of a customer-oriented company philosophy. This strengthens customer loyalty even in difficult times.

Take the customer seriously

Often customers give us signs before an average "so-so" experience turns into pure frustration. But these are often ignored due to time pressure, Often customers give us signs before an average "so-so" experience turns into pure frustration. But these are often ignored due to time pressure, unawareness and superficiality in dealing with the customer in day-to-day business.

Because even comments like: I expected more, It was better on the last visit. still perceived and also "dealt with" on the spot, you prevent worse. Small things that annoy the customer often lead to great frustration. Ultimately, this also leads to negative evaluations in ranking portals. If a guest checks into a hotel already nervous and upset, all alarm bells should go off. You have to pay special attention to this guest. From the beginning to the end of their stay.

The attitude "complaints are also opportunities" must be deeply anchored in the companies as an attitude. Just like the principle of the open window for tips. More on this later.


Attentive staff turn a good place into a place of true pleasure. The moment a customer walks through the front door sets the tone for their entire stay.


Paying attention to staff mental state - An excellent customer experience starts with an excellent employee experience

The first contact in the case of a complaint decides on the general course and the degree of satisfaction of the customer in the end. Especially now in times of crisis, it is important to consider the emotional side of customers, but also of employees. Employees work in remote situations, are in the midst of structural changes and often feel irritated or insecure themselves as a result. Emphatic leadership, responsibility and sustained communication with each individual in the team are important now. They ensure that clients are helped in a friendly, quick and effective manner in their respective problem situations.

Interactive process and standards are the be-all and end-all

The complaint management process is an integral part of the entire CRM process. Unfortunately, why does it work smoothly, quickly and completely satisfactorily for the customer only in a few cases? Because there are breaks and incomplete processes, employees are not trained enough in customer experience topics, no customer mindset is established, data is not available at the point in the process where it is needed or standards are not sufficiently controlled.

This is how you do it right:

  • Makes processes transparent.

  • Updates standards and do mystery check ups.

  • Connects digital processes with the analogue parts of the process chain.

  • Ensures 100% follow up.

  • Provides the right customer data to the customer service agent.

  • Integrates multiple feedback loops in the Customer Lifetime Circle.

  • Digitalises processes to focus on what matters most: the customer.

The employee empowerment for action brings solutions

What does the customer need? The perfect solution to his problem. That comes first in the customer's value. Even before the apology. This is often overlooked. The customer expects concrete help, offers and alternatives for his individual situation. What he does not want under any circumstances is: to repeat his facts several times at different points, to wait unnecessarily long or to be referred to another staff member without an answer. To what extent may the employee decide whether material compensation, discounts or special prices may be applied? Can goods be exchanged without hesitation in the event of a complaint? Is a restaurant employee allowed to simply put a dessert "on the house" in the to-go bag, if the delivery is delayed? These are questions that companies should now clarify internally. It is important to define a fixed framework of action- clear empowerment for employees - put in writing, communicate clearly and trained properly. Example from the premium hotel industry: Every employee knows his or her framework of action when a complaint is received during check-out. Whether there is a price reduction, an extra coffee or a free late check-out as compensation, the catalog of options should be discussed and defined in advance. This is a principle that all sectors should apply.


"Clients don't expect you to be perfect. They expect you to fix things when they go wrong. "


Open- window- policy serves as an early warning system

Be sensitive to customer feedback, to the subtleties that customers tell you long before they actually complain. This is what an open window policy is good for. Similar to the open-door policy of always being available, the open window symbolises a warm welcome for any advice that comes from a customer. It is also a cross-departmental concept. An open window means: being positively attuned to any kind of customer comments. And also, to actively look for the blind spots along the customer experience path.

It is important to become aware of precisely these blind spots, to find the solutions in advance, before the customer disappears from our field of vision, leaves, logs off in the portal and says goodbye quietly, unnoticed by us.

This is where courage is needed. To be courageous enough means to directly address concrete questions to the customer. That means assessing their emotional mood, responding individually to the customer's needs, ideally exceeding their expectations and thus actively preventing complaints. Often we even clearly perceive so-called dissonances such as the bored look, the eyebrow-raising facial expression or the sharp undertone in a question - we sense when something is going wrong. The decisive last step, to ask concretely, is extremely difficult. It is this fear of the volcano erupting. Now is not the time to make a complaint!

We miss a clear opportunity to win the customer as a brand ambassador. We wait. Until the boomerang comes, in the most unpleasant case published via the social networks in the form of a review.

The open-window policy makes it easier to deal with customers. The inhibition threshold to address customers disappears, as I notice during communication training. Long-term results are: Higher customer loyalty due to enthusiastic customers and customer proximity, increase in rankings due to positive reviews and increase in the number of regular customers, due to fewer complaints.


No one likes to hear criticism. Too often, customers who speak out are treated as annoying troublemakers. But they are not the biggest threat to the company. If we do our job right at that point dealing with the complaint. The biggest threat are the silent churners. The customers who turn their backs on you and the brand without notice

and the brand without any information. After all, only 1 in 26 customers complain*Study PWC

Paying attention and listening to the customer, considering their customer input as a valuable asset and using analytical results as a true source of information for even better products and services ensure success. The entrepreneur's view is not the same as the customer's view. Courage to be close to the customer, efficient complaint handling and in-depth evaluation pay off especially now during the pandemic - a time when customers want to be understood even more than ever before.

More on the topic of success factors for a positive/ negative customer experience.


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