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The holy grail of dissatisfied customers

Every business wants satisfied customers. Of course they do. However there is another customer group that’s worth more to a business in the long-run…

They are dissatisfied customers. If you can satisfy a dissatisfied customer, the chances are that they’ll be more loyal to your business and brand than if they never experienced the problem. There must be some psychology behind being dissatisfied and feeling grateful that someone has empathised and taken the effort to turn the situation around.

This pearl of marketing wisdom was told to me at a marketing course many, many years ago. This was before the advent of social media, which we’ll consider in a later post. The trainer then related a story from a previous delegate on his course.

Ooohthats cynical!
The chap worked in the automotive industry. His company had cynically manipulated this insight about satisfying dissatisfied customers to drive increased loyalty among their high-end car owners.

They were sending out their higher-end cars with a small, known fault. It was nothing dangerous that would affect the safety or performance of the car. It was more an annoying rattle or vibration that detracted from the driving pleasure.

The owner would telephone the customer service line to report this fault. Service staff were trained to book the car in for a service immediately, offer a courtesy car and so on. Garages also knew of the fault and were able to fix it quickly. Customers were delighted — and even more loyal to the brand than if they had never experienced the problem.

Customer dissatisfaction: the opportunity
Now, I’m not suggesting for one moment that businesses should engineer reasons for customers to complain to drive increased loyalty. It sounds trite but maybe it’s a case of viewing customer dissatisfaction as an opportunity to:

  • Build customer loyalty
  • Create passionate advocates for your business and brand
  • Learn things about your business
  • Fine-tune your internal processes, procedures and staff training


How to do this will be the subject of the next post.