How To Identify Dissatisfied Customers

Philip Cleave
March 20, 2024
Man identifying unhappy customers from an online review site

When it comes to your business success and longevity, the levels of satisfaction within your customer base have a pivotal role to play. This is because if your customers are dissatisfied rather than satisfied, this negativity can not only impact your revenue and brand reputation, but it can also discourage potential customers from engaging with your products or services.

So, whether it’s dissatisfaction with your products, your services or both, your ability to identify dissatisfied customers, then swiftly and proactively take actions to put that right will have a significant bearing on the level of success you’re able to achieve.

What causes customer dissatisfaction

Customer dissatisfaction can arise across many touchpoints of a customer’s buying journey, and negatively impact that customer’s experience with your brand.

Given that UK customer satisfaction levels are at their lowest since 2015, it’s important to have in mind where some of this dissatisfaction is most likely to stem from.

So, to help you, here’s a few common causes of customer dissatisfaction.

Poor customer service

From long waiting times, to having to repeat their query multiple times to different customer service representatives. There’s lots of ways in which poor customer service can lead to customer dissatisfaction. And when you also consider that around 50% of consumers would switch to a competitor after a single bad customer experience, it makes good sense to deliver as good a customer service as you can.

Incomplete customer data

Closely linked to poor customer service, is organisations not holding a complete or accurate picture of their customers. Not only can this include personal information, but the details of any issues a customer may be experiencing, so if they get transferred to another agent in the middle of an inquiry or complaint, they won’t need to repeat themselves.

It’s vital that customer support teams have all the data they need at their fingertips, otherwise they can’t solve problems as quickly. If they’re forced to ask customers to recount their information and explain their issues all over again, this can lead to an extremely frustrating experience for those customers.

Product quality and performance

Consumers expect the products they purchase to perform as well as the advertisements they see, or any independent research they may have carried out on them. Therefore, if the product fails to meet their expectations in terms of quality, durability or performance, this can quickly lead to dissatisfaction.

No personalisation

Whether it’s tailored emails or curated product suggestions. For today’s consumers, personalisation is quickly becoming one of the most important elements of their customer experience. Without this many customers could feel unappreciated and dissatisfied.

By contrast, those businesses that provide effective personalisation are more likely to see their customer satisfaction improve and enjoy up to 15x stronger customer loyalty than their peers.

Poor communications

Similar to personalisation, today’s customers also expect organisation’s to be clear and timely in their general communications with them. So, if they don’t receive any communications about the status of their order, or no one gets back to them when they send an email or make a call, they can quickly become dissatisfied. Worse still continually poor communications can lead them to take their business elsewhere.

Unmet expectations

Finally, from your price point and the quality of your product to your customer service and delivery times. Whether we realise it or not, many consumers will bring pre-defined expectations to every purchase or interaction.

Therefore, organisations need to be more effective at engaging with them on this and aligning themselves more closely with their customers’ expectations.

How do you know if a customer is dissatisfied?

Having looked at some common causes of customer dissatisfaction, you’ll want to know how to identify dissatisfaction among your customer base, as too much dissatisfaction can be detrimental to your reputation and growth.

Yet, this is not as simple a task as you might first think. In fact, according to studies 91% of customers who are unhappy with a brand and leave them for a competitor, are likely to do so without even registering a complaint. Subsequently, this means that a customer who is complaining may not be unhappy with your services, while someone who isn’t complaining could soon churn because they no longer trust your services.

In such a scenario it can be helpful to have some key indicators to identify when a customer is dissatisfied and some resolutions for managing this.

A high volume of complaints and negative feedback

One of the more straightforward indicators of customer dissatisfaction is receiving lots of customer complaints and negative feedback. Whether this is sent via direct communications, emails or online reviews, customers will typically express their dissatisfaction after encountering issues with products, services, or their overall experience.

Therefore, it’s prudent to prioritise a more active and seamless way of listening out for and managing customer complaints and feedback.

An omnichannel approach to CX can help here. Under this approach multiple channels are provided and integrated to communicate with a customer and ensure a seamless experience for them. That way, a customer can pick up their query on one channel, exactly where they left off on a previous channel, ensuring their query doesn’t fall through the gaps and they’re more likely to receive a fast and effective resolution to their complaint.

Volatile patterns of customer engagement

Another tell tale sign of dissatisfaction can be seen when there’s a drop in customer engagement. So, if you see that customers are less active on your website, social media channels, email communications, or even on calls, it could indicate a waning interest in your brand.

To help counter this, you need to create more engaging content and personalised experiences to help keep customers interested and connected. With increased analysis of customer behaviour, you’ll be better able to understand their preferences and tailor your offerings to meet their needs.

Churn and cancellation rates

Similarly, if you’re experiencing an increase in customer cancellations, or higher than usual churn rates, these are clear signs that all is not well. When customers are dissatisfied, they’re more likely to seek alternative and switch to a competitor.

Consequently, you need to better understand the reasons behind this churn, which an exit survey can help you with. You can then use the insights you’ve gained to address pain points, enhance your products or services, and build stronger customer relationships.

Frequently check how you compare with your competitors

It goes without saying, that you should always pay attention to what your customers are talking about, particularly with regards to your competitors.

If your customers are frequently bringing up the capabilities of your competitors and their capacity to offer what you cannot, this should raise some serious concerns.

This continual mention of your rivals indicates that either your service standards are falling or your rapport with your customers is deteriorating. Either way, you must carefully assess the needs of your customers and take the appropriate actions.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

If you’re not already doing so, then measuring your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty levels through the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric can be a really effective way of gauging how happy or not your customers are with you. A low NPS score would indicate that you have a higher number of detractors (dissatisfied customers) within your customer base.

By regularly measuring your NPS and using the feedback to pinpoint areas for improvement, you can both address the concerns of your detractors while nurturing promoters to develop more brand advocates who will positively influence others.

Repeat complaints

If your customers are repeatedly raising the same complaints, it’s a clear sign that they’re unhappy with the lack of resolution or improvement.

If you can implement a robust feedback loop, it will give you a systematic way of capturing and analysing your customer complaints. It’s then easier to identify recurring issues and take proactive steps to resolve them.

How to prevent customer dissatisfaction

With a clearer idea about some of the more common signs of customer dissatisfaction, you’ll want to find some ways to minimise such discontent with your own business.

Here’s some steps you can take to minimise customer dissatisfaction.

Adopt a customer-first mindset

One of the most significant ways to prevent customer dissatisfaction is to adopt a customer-first mindset.

When we talk about customer first, we’re essentially talking about a customer centric approach, where the needs of customers are put at the centre of organisational decision-making, rather than solely focusing on productivity and growth. By following this approach, you’ll also gain a better understanding of your customer needs, wants and pain points.

A customer-first mindset is also more likely to result in intelligent decisions that customers will appreciate such as implementing customer feedback and making improvements to a product or a service. Subsequently, customer satisfaction and loyalty are more likely to increase, helping to enhance business growth and profitability.

Establish clear customer expectations

Another key step to help prevent customer dissatisfaction is to set clear and realistic expectations. Having touched on the dissatisfaction caused by unmet expectations earlier, your business needs to prioritise transparency at every touchpoint throughout your organisation.

Greater transparency should include setting clearer hours for your support team and communicating them to your customers, so they know exactly when your support team is and isn’t available. Be accurate with your product descriptions, advertisements and other promotional copy. Remember to communicate the little things like tax, shipping times and additional details that may seem insignificant but aren’t.

When you keep customers informed, they will clearly understand what to expect from your business.

Keep one step ahead of your customers

Try to be more proactive in anticipating what your customers may need, before they even ask, which you can apply to your product offering or your support team. For example, you may want to regularly develop new product features, as a way to stay ahead of changing consumer preferences and needs.

When it comes to customer support, you always need to be thinking about what a customer may need to do or know next. For example, if a customer emails your support team when they become locked out of their account, in your email response you may like to include specific actions they can take to unlock it. You might also want to include a guide for resetting their account if they’re unable to unlock it.

Seemingly unimportant actions like this can have a positive impact on customer satisfaction.

Ask for feedback

Finally, you can help minimise dissatisfaction by continually seeking out and acting on customer feedback, which will also boost your understanding of customers. For example, just by asking buyers to provide feedback through surveys, you’re showing them that you prioritise customer care and are looking to improve their experience.

Through the unique insights and perspectives that customer feedback provides, you’ll also be able to identify areas for improvement and make any adjustments faster. Consequently, when it’s leveraged correctly customer feedback can help businesses enhance their products or services, as well as the processes that impact the customer experience.

Why preventing customer dissatisfaction matters

Having learnt about the main causes of customer dissatisfaction, how to identify dissatisfied customers and ways to minimise your volume of unhappy customers, we hope you will agree that preventing customer dissatisfaction really matters.

Still not convinced? Well, consider this. According to research 13% of unsatisfied customers will tell 15 or more people when they’re disappointed with your brand.

As you can see dissatisfaction has a major domino effect on others. So much so, that even a single customer that leaves discontented from your doors could mean a great deal for your business.

Increase customer satisfaction with great experiences

With the right processes and ongoing customer feedback, you can boost customer contentment. But it’s also important not to forget how much you can increase customer satisfaction when you deliver great customer experiences. However, if you’re to achieve the best results, you’ll need the right survey tools.

Find out more