SurveyMonkey is built to handle every use case and need. Explore our product to learn how SurveyMonkey can work for you.

Get data-driven insights from a global leader in online surveys.

Integrate with 100+ apps and plug-ins to get more done.

Build and customize online forms to collect info and payments.

Create better surveys and spot insights quickly with built-in AI.

Purpose-built solutions for all of your market research needs.


Measure customer satisfaction and loyalty for your business.

Learn what makes customers happy and turn them into advocates.

Get actionable insights to improve the user experience.

Collect contact information from prospects, invitees, and more.

Easily collect and track RSVPs for your next event.

Find out what attendees want so that you can improve your next event.

Uncover insights to boost engagement and drive better results.

Get feedback from your attendees so you can run better meetings.

Use peer feedback to help improve employee performance.

Create better courses and improve teaching methods.

Learn how students rate the course material and its presentation.

Find out what your customers think about your new product ideas.


Best practices for using surveys and survey data

Our blog about surveys, tips for business, and more.

Tutorials and how to guides for using SurveyMonkey.

How top brands drive growth with SurveyMonkey.

Contact SalesLog in
Contact SalesLog in
  • Customer dissatisfaction (DSAT) occurs when a customer's expectations are not met by a product, service, or experience, leading to disappointment and negative perceptions of the business.
  • It can result from various factors such as poor quality, inadequate service, unmet promises, or negative interactions with staff.
  • DSAT can cause negative word of mouth and customer churn, impacting brand reputation and revenue.
  • Customer dissatisfaction occurs because of poor customer service and product quality issues.

Customer dissatisfaction can make an enormous impact on your business and get in the way of achieving your goals. Not only are dissatisfied customers less likely to make repeat purchases, they may also share their negative experiences with their peers which can damage your company's reputation. 

Understanding and addressing the root causes of customer dissatisfaction is essential to maintain your brand’s positive reputation, as well as ensuring the overall health and success of your business.

Companies that are able to proactively manage DSAT can gain a competitive advantage by turning their customer’s negative experiences into opportunities for improvement, fostering a loyal customer base and a motivated workforce.

In this article, we'll explore what customer dissatisfaction is, its common causes, and effective strategies to prevent it in your business. 

Customer dissatisfaction refers to the negative sentiment customers experience when a product or service fails to meet their expectations. This dissatisfaction can stem from any number of reasons, including poor customer service, product quality issues, and mismatch between the customer’s expectations and their experience with your brand. 

While it’s not always possible to completely avoid customer dissatisfaction, a company's response to customers satisfaction can make all the difference. In addition, identifying and rectifying common causes of customer dissatisfaction with your business can help you avoid long-term consequences and sustained impact on your business. 

Let’s take a look at what can happen if you don’t keep your customer dissatisfaction in check. High rates of customer dissatisfaction can lead to several negative outcomes, including: 

  • Loss of revenue. Dissatisfied customers are less likely to make repeat purchases or recommend the product or service to others. This can have a direct impact on your bottom line, impacting both new sales and recurring revenue. In addition, it’s important to remember that retaining your existing customers is typically more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Because of this, a focus on customer satisfaction is crucial for the sustained financial performance of your business.
  • Damage to reputation. Negative experiences shared by dissatisfied customers can tarnish a company's reputation, leading to a loss of trust and credibility in the market. In the age of the internet, dissatisfied customers can quickly share their negative experiences through social media and online reviews, making it difficult to contain the impact.
  • Increased customer churn. Dissatisfied customers are also much more likely to switch to competitors, leading to higher customer churn rates and loss of market share. High churn rates can significantly impact long-term business growth and stability.
  • Decreased employee morale. Dealing with dissatisfied customers can impact employee morale and job satisfaction, lowering employee productivity and engagement. High levels of customer dissatisfaction can further create a stressful work environment for customer-facing employees. 

DSAT in customer service refers to instances of customer dissatisfaction experienced related to the service they receive from your company. DSAT encompasses a variety of different factors, including interactions with customer support representatives, support response times, time to resolve issues, whether their issue was satisfactorily resolved, and overall service quality. Monitoring DSAT in customer service is essential as it directly affects customer perceptions and loyalty.

Customer holding tablet

Now that you understand the consequences of customer dissatisfaction, let’s take a look at the common causes. 

While this is not an exhaustive list, these areas are often the first place to look, so you can get to the root cause and address these issues proactively. In general, customer dissatisfaction will come down to one (or both) of these things: poor customer service and product quality issues. Let’s take a look at a few examples. 

Poor customer service is a significant cause of dissatisfaction. You’ll need to dig a little deeper into why your customers are having poor experiences with your customer service. 

  • Unresponsive or slow customer support. A common cause of dissatisfaction is slow or unresponsive customer support. Your customers expect timely responses when they reach out for support. They don’t want to send an email and then wait days for a response. Nor will they be happy sitting on hold for hours on end or being constantly redirected to a different team with no resolution in sight. If they’ve reached out to support for help, the customer is already frustrated because something isn’t working quite right. Getting answers to their concerns at a snail’s pace will only amplify their frustration and drive them to look for alternatives. 
  • Rude or unhelpful staff. Negative interactions with customer service representatives can also leave a lasting impression on customers, making them less likely to continue doing business with the company. Again, customers are reaching out to support to solve a problem. If your staff are dismissive and unhelpful, this can make the situation worse.
  •  Inefficient problem resolution. Let’s say your wait times are low and your staff is super friendly and eager to help. What else could be causing customer satisfaction? Maybe your staff aren’t effectively trained to handle the customer’s problems. When that happens, it may take a long time to troubleshoot the customer’s concerns, and the issue may not be resolved during the conversation at all. When issues are not resolved quickly and effectively, customers may feel neglected and undervalued.

Customer dissatisfaction can also occur when the product fails to meet expectations, which might even be the original reason they reached out to your support team in the first place.

Common product quality issues that impact customer dissatisfaction include:

  • Defective or malfunctioning products. Products that do not work as intended or break down faster than expected can cause frustration and disappointment. Customers may reach out to support to get a warranty repair or replacement, or they may simply look for alternative options.
  • Misleading product descriptions. If the product does not match the description or fails to deliver the promised benefits, customers may feel misled by your marketing and sales.
  • Lack of reliability or durability. Products that do not last or require frequent repairs can further erode customer trust and satisfaction.
Customer listening to headphone

Preventing customer dissatisfaction is key to driving positive business outcomes and building a thriving community of brand advocates. But customer dissatisfaction often runs deep and won’t be solved overnight. 

For businesses that are serious about improving their customer satisfaction, you’ll need to take the time to understand your audience’s needs and expectations, identify the root causes of the dissatisfaction, and turn those negative experiences into opportunities to improve your customer satisfaction.

Here are a few key strategies. 

The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort customers have to put in to get their issues resolved. Reducing customer effort can significantly improve satisfaction. Implementing CES surveys can help identify pain points and streamline processes.

Here are a few practical steps you can take to reduce customer effort: 

  • Make it easy to reach out to support. Check the navigation of your website or app. Is it user-friendly? How many clicks does it take for customers to find what they need, such as support contact information?
  • Automate simple tasks. Implement automations that let customers find info themselves where possible. For example, instead of requiring them to reach out to support, consider automating order tracking and account updates. This lets the customer solve their own needs quickly where possible, while freeing up your support staff to focus on more complex questions.
  • Empower customers with self-service options. Consider publishing comprehensive self-service resources like FAQs, knowledge bases, and video tutorials to help customers resolve issues independently.
  • Offer multi-channel support. Give your customers options to reach out to you. For example, offer support via phone, email, live or automated chat, and social media, so customers can choose the most convenient option. 

Regularly collecting feedback at various stages of the customer lifecycle helps identify issues early and address them proactively. Use surveys and feedback forms to gather insights and make necessary improvements.

Here are a few examples where you should consider capturing your customer’s feedback: 

  • Onboarding surveys: Collect feedback from new customers to understand their initial experience and identify any areas of confusion or dissatisfaction.
  • Post-purchase surveys: After a purchase, ask customers about their satisfaction with the buying process, product quality, and overall experience.
  • Usage surveys: Periodically check in with customers to see how they are using your product or service and to identify any emerging issues or unmet needs.
  • Transactional NPS surveys: After an interaction with your support team, consider sending out a NPS survey to measure the customer’s satisfaction with the level of service they received. 
  • Exit surveys: When customers choose to leave, ask them about their reasons for leaving and what you could have done to retain their business. This will give you valuable insight to take into future customer interactions. 

Clear and transparent communication can prevent misunderstandings and manage customer expectations. For example, regular updates, clear instructions, and timely responses can enhance customer satisfaction. 

It’s also important to take a close look at your marketing and sales messaging to understand where there may be a disconnect between customer expectations and the realities of the product. Consider how you can work cross-functionally to deliver a seamless end-to-end customer experience—from the first marketing touch to customer success. 

Personalizing customer interactions can make customers feel valued and understood. Use customer data to tailor communications, offers, and support to individual preferences and needs.

Here’s how to implement personalization:

  • Segment your audience. Divide your customer base into segments based on demographics, purchase history, and behavior so you can tailor messages to each audience more effectively.
  • Offer tailored support. Use customer history and data to provide more personalized support, addressing customers by name and referencing their past interactions. This helps customers feel valued, even if they’re dealing with a complex issue.
  • Enable customizable experiences. Allow customers to customize their experience with your product or service, such as choosing preferred communication channels or setting product preferences.

Investing in excellent customer service can significantly reduce dissatisfaction by ensuring that customers get timely and effective assistance. Consider implementing comprehensive training programs for support staff to equip them with the knowledge, empathy, and conflict resolution skills necessary to respond effectively to the gamut of customer issues. 

It’s also a good idea to take a look at whether you have the right systems in place to drive your customer support team’s success. For example, effective customer relationship management (CRM) tools can help streamline support processes and keep track of customer interactions, allowing for more personalized and effective service. 

Finally, establishing feedback loops to collect data on support interactions enables continuous improvement of support processes, ensuring that customer service remains responsive and effective. 

Customer dissatisfaction can have a profound impact on your business. However, when you deeply understand your customer’s needs and expectations, you can turn customer dissatisfaction into learning opportunities, drive higher rates of customer success and satisfaction, and take your business to the next level. 

Customer satisfaction survey templates

Explore our customer satisfaction survey templates to rapidly collect data, identify pain points, and improve your customer experience.

Customer equity: What is it and how to cultivate it

What is customer equity? Customer equity is the value that customers contribute to your business over their lifetime. Learn how to improve equity.

Customer experience trends

New research on how consumers think about customer experience trends compared to CX team priorities

28 event survey questions to capture attendee feedback

Get the most out of your event feedback. Learn what event survey questions to ask to gather valuable feedback at every event stage.