To compete effectively in the Age of the Customer —a 20-year business cycle in which consumers have unprecedented real-time access to information and social sharing— it’s time for a new playbook. By using effective strategies to identify sources of dissatisfaction early on, and communicating how and when it matters most, your company can turn disgruntled customers into loyal advocates of your brand. Here’s how to transform negative sentiment into a winning, positive customer experience.

Consider these proven strategies for resolving pain points:

1 – Uncover problems and gain actionable insights using text analytics

“Text analytics can surface issues that would have gone unnoticed and raise the organization’s sensitivity to potential opportunities.”

“How To Use Text Analytics In Your VOC Program”, Forrester Research

Text analytics is a powerful tool to identify, categorize, and analyze customer feedback about your products, services, and brand. Gain a holistic perspective of the customer experience by capturing comments from numerous feedback sources such as call centers, surveys, and social media networks.

Financial institutions should also be sure to mine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) consumer complaint database. With valuable insights on trouble spots and emerging risks, you can take targeted action.

2 – Reduce negative sentiment during corporate change with effective communications

During major change such as a merger, it’s mission critical to define key messages that provide a clear, cohesive, and reassuring narrative. Companies should convey what’s happening and what to expect, and communicate that story consistently across all channels. When customers (and employees) understand the big picture and how the change will affect them, it helps build alignment and momentum for a successful transition.

Companies should also prepare well with readiness assessments that identify customer concerns and areas of resistance, and then craft merger communications that resonate well and build buy-in. By communicating effectively to ensure customers feel valued and informed, the business can reduce the risk of attrition.

3 – Strengthen customer relationships by leveraging social media

“A problem solved promptly and well gives your company a chance to shine, and creates a unique opportunity to strengthen customer loyalty.”

Steven Ramirez, CEO, Beyond the Arc

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook provide companies with an immediate channel for addressing questions and resolving problems. Actively listen to customers, and respond with prompt, personal attention to provide solutions that will create a really positive impression. It’s a good bet those customers will forgive the negatives and take to the airwaves again to praise their feel-good experiences with your company.

Think of negative customer feedback as an expected part of doing business; use it to improve both your business processes and your customer communications. Showing customers you’re listening and that you care about how they feel can help transform negative sentiment into a winning customer experience.