Finding the Silver Lining When Encountering a Disgruntled Customer

Operating a retail store is no easy feat, and let’s face it- you are at the mercy of your customers.

Offering products at affordable prices in an inviting and convenient environment does not guarantee that you won’t experience a testy or dissatisfied customer. While correcting the situation may be a steep uphill climb, it is not impossible to turn a disgruntled consumer into a loyal, long-term customer.

Learning the ebbs and flows of customer expectations puts you ahead of the game and leads to satisfied consumers.

Even armed with this knowledge, you will likely encounter disgruntled customers. In these situations, the use of proper problem-solving techniques can diffuse tension and ease the frustration of an upset customer.


Finding the Silver Lining When Encountering a Disgruntled Customer When encountering a disgruntled customer, it is almost always beneficial to allow the person to vent their frustrations without interruption. An essential part of this venting process is active listening to determine where the real problem lies.

For customers, the problem might be stress unrelated to their shopping experience or it may truly be a problem your store created.

In either event, empathize and apologize. Focus on a fair customer solution that directly addresses the issue at hand. While it may be tempting to solely defer to store policy, this defensive move alienates customers.

Guide your customer gently through their issue with genuine sincerity and you will be able to identify and resolve their source of frustration.


A situation with an unhappy consumer can be turned into a positive experience for both you and your customer.

Instead of seeing a situation with an upset customer as a loss, your store can use this as the foundation to improve upon in the future.

For example, if a customer is having difficulty locating products within your store, you might re-evaluate your product signage or product placement to prevent similar issues for other customers.

A customer returning a product is another situation in which tempers can flare. Adjust your return policy so employees have flexibility in handling various return issues to diffuse confrontation and advance good will. Thinking like a customer when considering how to handle these difficult situations can have an immensely positive impact on your customer and your store.

Handling a customer complaint

Consider the following points…

  • ŸNever take a complaint personally. Any time you have a customer complaint, think about how you can make changes in the future to avoid similar problems. Although it seldom feels like it, disgruntled customers can be beneficial for business.
  • How can you manage your store so that a customer can quickly and efficiently complete their shopping?
    • Adjusting your mindset to be more consumer-centric will help put a customer’s complaint into perspective and consequently make their future shopping experiences more enjoyable.
  • Make sure you’re attentive when listening to the customer.
    • Showing that you care and that steps will be taken to fix the issue can resolve both present and future problems.
  • Devise a solution. Make note of what the customer’s frustrations are and set a plan of action to correct them.
  • Follow up on any promise given to your customer.
    • Call when you say you will call, even if no immediate resolution seems possible. Your customer is expecting your call regardless of the message and failing to call when promised suggests their concern is inconsequential.
      The call can mean more than the solution itself by making the customer feel both heard and appreciated.

While working with unhappy customers can seem disheartening, situations such as these allow you to reassess your operation and develop ways to better utilize your resources.



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About Midwest Retail Services

Midwest Retail Services provides all the store fixtures needed to start, expand, or update your retail store. We serve a wide variety of businesses including pharmacy, grocery, pet supply, party supply, book, C-Store, discount, and many other retailers. We also support POP design and fulfillment, retail designers, architects, contractors, installers, and store fixture resellers.