How to deal with an unhappy customer

Good businesses do their best to provide excellent products and services to everyone they work with. However, there can still be situations in which customers are unhappy – dealing with this well and quickly is crucial to good customer service and your business reputation.


There’s nothing worse than feeling ignored or that a business or individual doesn’t care about your complaint. Ignoring an unhappy customer will quickly escalate the situation and likely cause more damage.

So, make sure that when a customer comes to you with a complaint, whether it’s in person, over the phone or via email, that you actively listen. This can be as simple as opening with a phrase such as ‘let’s go over what happened’, or ‘please tell me why you’re upset’.

This shows that you are listening to what they are saying and suggests that you are on their side and receptive to their issues.


  • Be empathetic and apologise
  • Take the time to listen
  • Remain calm throughout all interactions
  • Use their insights to learn where you can improve
  • Present a solution or, at the very least, a compromise

An unhappy customer can actually be a blessing in disguise, as long as you listen to their issues and experience with your company. You can learn valuable insights about your business’s customer experience and improve any problems identified.


  • Don’t react first: let them air their grievances
  • Don’t disagree
  • Don’t jump to any conclusions; each customer’s journey is different, and making assumptions could create a whole new problem
  • Don’t take it personally
  • Don’t shift the blame on to others

It’s not always possible to make every customer happy however hard you try, but having a good and consistent process in place for dealing with unhappy customers will help both you and your customers to have a less stressful experience if something difficult does come up.

Want more? Read our guide on your responsibilities as a car dealer.

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