How to Turn an Unhappy Customer Into a Raving Fan


The most frequent question I get from potential clients is, “What happens if somoene posts something negative about us?”

The truth is that if people are upset with your business, they will find a way to get the word out about your unfair service.  If you’re worried about people posting negative comments about your business, then you might want to re-think the way you’re conducting business in the first place.

Today, businesses are being held more and more responsible by their customers.  If one customer feels upset about the way they were treated they can tarnish the reputation of a business.

Everyone’s heard the saying, “A happy customer tells a friend.  An unhappy customer tells the world.”  The greatest thing about the Internet is that it’s changing that relationship.  The new way business is done is, “A happy customer tells its network.  An unhappy customer tells the world. And an organization demonstrates how it treats its customers.”

Before the Internet, if a customer was unhappy, they would leave your store, never come back and tell all their friends about what bad service they received.  The worst thing for a business would be to lose customers and not know why they were losing customers.  Knowing your problems and confronting them will help any organization retain customers and acquire new ones.

Today, businesses have an exciting opportunity to REALLY understand what their customers want based on reviews they leave on a variety of websites.  They can then implement strategies to address the needs of their customers and provide exceptional service.  Some organizations understand the value this can bring to their business and others do not.

Organizations can do one of two things when a customer complains, they can hide from it and hope it goes away or they can react to it and confront the problem head on. 

Here are two examples of how organizations react to customer feedback.

Before I begin my story, and tell you about how to turn an unhappy Customer into a Raving Fan, let me say that I’m not in the habit of complaining about organizations, but when I do it’s because I genuinely enjoy my relationship with the business, but they do something that makes it feel like they are trying to cheat me out of something.  These are the only two complaints I’ve had against any company in the past 10 years, but these companies handled them in two distinctly different ways.

#1 – Big League Dreams in Chino Hills –

The Comment:  “Dissappointed.  I played softball and soccer here since the park opened.  I used to love playing here.  The place was packed and although pricey was still a fun place to get my exercise in for the week and release some stress.  After adding up the seasons played here I’m estimating I’ve spent around $4,000 or so.  On Thursday nights play has gone down from 30 games a night to around 12 and they’ve decided to raise prices . . . I came into the pro shop on the third week of the season to pay my player fee because my coach forgot to mention it to us and it slipped my mind.  The response from the proshop was either you pay a $10 penalty making it $40 or you can’t play.  Considering I’ve been a loyal customer for nearly a decade I expect some allowances to be made for this type of situation.  Not only were they forcing me to pay an additional $10 which made me feel like I was being taken advantage of but they were also condescending and accusatory in blaming me for the oversight. 

I go to their park to relax and have a good time, not to feel cheated.  This is my last season at Big League Dreams.  I used to love playing here and I hope they realize that making their customers happy is their number 1 priority.  Deleting comments to Facebook only add to the misguided efforts of their business.  I hope they can turn it around.  I would love to see Big League Dreams be great again.”

The Response:  I originally posted a similar comment to their Facebook page and after many of my friends began liking the comment and reiterating how frustrated they were the administrator deleted my comment adding to my frustration.  I never received any response from Big League Dreams and as a result me and my entire softball team decided to play at another venue.  In addition this comment and others left by frustrated players were left up for all to see.

The Outcome:  Just from our team, Big League Dreams lost close to $4,000 per year in happy, satisfied customers who would have continued to use their fields and be happy to do so.  Yet, when the opportunity arose to fix a minor problem by their staff we felt mistreated and so, we took our business elsewhere.

#2 – 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport – Ontario

The Comment:  “Unhappy.  Tell me if I’m missing something here.  I’ve been a member of 24 hour fitness in Chino Hills for years, my brother and I wanted to join the gym and he gets quoted a price of $39.99, meanwhile, me a loyal customer for years gets quoted at $69.99 because I’m already a member at another gym.  And they won’t let me cancel and renew my membership under this new plan.  Common sense would tell any organization that you treat your customers well . . . instead giving me an ultimatum, pay up or cancel my membership.  I’ve enjoyed my experience at the 24 hour fitness in Chino Hills, but feel angry and dissappointed that an organization as big as 24 would work so hard to try and stick it to their current, loyal customers.  I hope things in the organization change.  Other than that it looked like a nice facility, but you can be sure I will never use 24 hour fitness again.”

The Response:  Within the hour this posting, I received a call from the same individual that gave me the ultimatum to cancel my membership saying that she had worked out a way we could stay at the club for the agreed upon price for my brother.  Two days later I received another email from the Club Manager asking if there was anything she could do to help me become a part of the club.

The Outcome:  24 Hour Fitness could have missed out on $960 per year from my brother and I.  After posting my original comment, I was committed to never using 24 Hour Fitness again . . . Today, I am telling YOU what a great organization 24 Hour Fitness is.

24 Hour Fitness gets the power of negative reviews, social media and the Internet and will continue to thrive.  Big League Dreams in Chino Hills does not and will continue to struggle.

Review sites, can be extremely valuable to any business.  Most people won’t post negative reviews about a business, they will just refuse to go back.  I wrote those reveiws because I enjoyed spending my time at both places and wanted to continue our relationship.  One company made it easy to do so and the other did not.

The Internet is changing the way business works.  Today’s successful businesses will embrace negative comments as feedback and attempt to fix the problems that upset their customers and not try to hide those comments.  They will embrace them and then work to come up with solutions that will make their customers happy.

Happy customers make frequent customers. And frequent customers make happy businesses.

24 Hour Fitness Super Sport in Ontario

By the way, I revised my Yelp Review for 24 Hour Fitness to read as follows:

“UPDATE:  I received a call from 24 Hour Fitness shortly after posting this comment.  They listened and worked hard to correct the problem.  We are now members of the 24 Hour Fitness in Chino and are thankful that the staff at 24 Hour Fitness took the time to handle our situation in order for us to become customers at 24 Hour Fitness.  While our initial experience was less than ideal the staff, in particular Caren, worked with us to ensure our happiness.  Thank you 24 Hour Fitness and Caren.”

24 Hour Fitness knows how to turn an unhappy customer into a raving fan.  Do you?

At Welborn Social Media we can help turn unhappy customers into raving fans.  We can help monitor what people are saying about you online so you can take action to make sure you retain customers and bring in happy new ones.  Contact Zeb today to find out how Welborn Social Media can help improve your online reputation management and marketing efforts – (909) 973 – 9089.


Yelp, Angie’s List and Other Review Sites Create Reputation Manager

Posted on March 9, 2012 by ZebWelborn


Since the beginning of 2012 I have talked with a variety of businesses about the impact Yelp and Angie’s List are having on their business.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Yelp or Angie’s List, they are websites that rank businesses on their performance.  Customers can visit either of those websites and give feedback in the form of a rating and also comment about the services they have received.  The company has no control over these ratings and, for better or worse, they appear in search engine results when people are looking for a particular business.

System 1 Acoustic Ceiling Removal Gets Angies List Super Service Award

In the past month, we have been working with two different businesses to help build their online reputation.  Understandably, they had concerns about the impact feedback on these sites is having on their business.

At the beginning of the year I began hunting for an apartment and really had no idea where to begin. We traveled by car to local apartment complexes and I visited one that I thought was perfect.  It was in my price range and seemed to have a lot of extra benefits that really attracted me.  But just before I left, the woman trying to sell me the apartment told me not to pay attention to the ratings because sometimes other apartment owners sabotage the ratings or an evicted tenant leaves false information about their experience.  I hadn’t even thought to look at a rating site for apartments, but her statement made me want to see for myself what was written.

Thirty or so people commented on that apartment complex. Ninety percent of those people said something along the lines of, “Whatever you do, do not move here.”  There were stories of burglaries, drug deals, shootings and no help from the administration when a problem arose.  This was not a place I wanted to live.

The ratings on actively influenced my purchasing decision. I ended up choosing an apartment complex with a relatively high rating, Somerset Apartments, that I absolutely love.  If you have a business where people are rating and commenting about it online, know that these ratings are affecting and will continue to affect your business.

How do you ensure people are talking positively about your business???  Hire a reputation manager.

Check back in the next couple of weeks to see our tips for building a business that excels at the ranking and commenting websites to give you an advantage over your competition.

Welborn Social Media provides social media services for small and medium-sized businesses all over the United States.  If you would like more information about how Welborn Social Media can act as your reputation manager and enhance your online reputation please give Zeb Welborn a call at (909) 973 – 9089.


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