Unhappy Customers (CHURN PART 2)

By Anita Toth posted 8 days ago


"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." Bill Gates


This is one of my favourite quotes of all time.

But it’s likely not for the reasons you might be thinking.

While I like this quote because of the learning element gathered from unhappy customers, (and if you know me, you know I love gathering feedback and data), I really like it because it speaks to the power of emotion – unhappiness.

Bill Gates doesn’t talk about learning the most from his happiest customers.


He speaks to learning the most from his unhappiest ones. The customers who are disappointed. The customers who are angry. The customers who might be pissed off. Those customers who might be thinking of churning.

How did Bill Gates manage to find these customers in this state?

Likely right after they had a negative experience.

There are 2 places in every business that have the greatest likelihood of taking a happy customer and making them unhappy:

  • During onboarding
  • During a customer support interaction


During onboarding – Onboarding can raise a lot of emotions—both good and not so good. This part of the customer journey is the ideal time to send a quick survey or even reach out for quick 15-minute interview. The best feedback you’ll get is right after a challenging part of the onboarding process. Your customers will remember what they were thinking and how they felt. This data is incredibly powerful because it speaks to the customer’s thoughts and emotional state. Creating knowledge base assets like videos and articles that speak to those mental and emotional challenges creates more buy-in than simply speaking to the (non-emotional) next steps they need to take.


During a support interaction – Yes. You read that right. During the interaction. A simple question like, “Am I answering your question?” or “Do you feel that I’m providing the answer you’re looking for?” can lead to further a discussion of what’s not quite working right. Questions like these prevent customers from simply disengaging before their issue is solved. By asking questions that dig just a bit deeper in real time, customers are more likely to leave the interaction more satisfied.

And there’s a lot you can do with that feedback you get from your unhappy customers.


In tomorrow’s post I’ll show you what do with all the feedback you’ve collected so you can focus on where to reduce churn first.


Here's the link to PART 1

How do I increase the response rates to my surveys?




7 days ago

@Heather Leventry

A balance of positive and negative are necessary so we don't feel that everything's great or that everything's really bad.

Negative feedback can be hard to take. But there are so many factors involved in comments people leave in surveys. Like I mention here, if their mood was already an upset one, it might trickle over into their comments.

That's why I like to learn more through customer interviews. Interviews help tell more of the 'real' story. 👍

7 days ago

@Carl Hoffmann

Given that churn is usually tied to negative emotions, it makes sense to try to learn as much about the customer's experience at those moments when negative emotions are likely to be at their peak -- during onboarding and support interactions. 

I'm looking forward to sharing Part 3. It's more strategic and tactical.

7 days ago

"Positive feedback is motivating, while negative feedback helps us iterate." What you are writing here is so important. Some people are afraid of negative feedback.

7 days ago

Love that you included these 2 important parts of a customer's post-sale experience. Onboarding - where they first get a sync up on what they actually bought with the day to day users of the product.  Support - because no one contacts support when everything is working as planned.

Great insight to the timing of asking for feedback and I am looking forward to Part 3.