Most organizations focus heavily on customer satisfaction and the overall experience people have when interacting with the company.

In many companies, dedicated teams of customer experience professionals are constantly looking for ways to improve. They invest heavily in systems, processes and technology to provide the best possible experience to their customers.

From a sales perspective, nothing is more disappointing than having a dissatisfied customer. You feel responsible, even if it’s something you have no control over. And it’s common for those of us in sales to try and come up with what we believe to be the best solution to whatever the customer’s problem is. We’ll do everything we can to try and fix the issue, and it’s not uncommon for those efforts to be extremely disruptive to others in the company.

Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with some amazing companies that have mastered this critical aspect of running a successful business. One thing I’ve learned and accepted is that no matter how great your company is or how amazing your products are, you will always have customers who are dissatisfied, regardless of how you handle the problem.

Thanks to technology and social media, upset customers can cause some serious problems for your brand, especially if they don’t care about their personal online image. Today, social media is the equivalent of shouting from the rooftop, and the reach these platforms have can cause thousands of people to hear negative feedback about your company in an instant.

Here are a few suggestion on ways to manage unhappy customers and protect the image your company has worked so hard to build.

Respond to online complaints

Online reviews are an amazing resource for companies. They can help sell your product or service, and I know a lot of people who rely heavily on reviews when making a buying decision. It’s critical for your organization to have a strategy and process for handling negative reviews and feedback that appears online.

You should have people dedicated to responding to negative reviews quickly. When someone sees a negative review and then sees an immediate response from your company addressing the problem, it shows that you get it and care about their experience. Many of the platforms people can leave reviews on show the negative feedback first, and that can have a profound impact on the initial perception people have.

Pay attention to trends

If you see the same issue being brought up over and over, stop what you’re doing and fix it as quickly as possible. Sometimes that requires drastic measures to fix whatever is going on, but it’s important to jump on it as soon as you recognize the trend.

I’m a big fan of having recurring meetings established to review customer feedback and issues and identify the root causes. Don’t let issues snowball and turn into bigger problems. That can happen quickly, and before you know it, you have a lot of unhappy people saying horrible things to others.

Solicit feedback

When customers are upset, they’re usually not shy about it. But there are some people who won’t say a word, but instead voice their concerns online or share the bad experience with people they know.

There are some great platforms available, like Delighted, that automate the feedback loop and allow companies to proactively capture feedback in real time or shortly after the customer’s interaction. They also allow you to capture positive feedback, which usually requires companies to nudge their customers. People are definitely more vocal when the experience is bad, so gathering the positive experience is equally, if not more important.

Lastly, accept the fact that it’s impossible to please everyone. There are certain people who will be miserable no matter what you do or say. Remember, you can’t rationalize with an irrational person, and it’s important to recognize when you’re in that situation.

Christopher Thompson ( writes Closing the Deal weekly.