Why Your Latest Customer Service Complaint is a Gift

customer service complaint

There are only three types of customers that always tell your company what they are thinking:

The Very Happy

They can’t wait to tell you how great your product or service is and how it changed their life. They are falling over themselves to express their gratitude in person, by phone or on the Web.

The Very Unhappy

They can’t wait to tell you how your product or service just ruined “their life” and they wish they never met your company. They, too, are falling over themselves to express their dismay in person, by phone or on the Web.

The People You Pay

Customers love to be “bribed” to tell their opinion. Many retail stores give a $2 – $5 discount on a customer’s next order for completing a survey.

Unfortunately, the majority of disgruntled customers will say nothing directly to the company. They will sulk away and never buy from that company again. In this case, no news is not always good news. It may be broken and the company may not even know it.

According to Harvard Business Review:

  • 25% of customers are likely to say something positive about their customer service experience.
  • 65% are likely to speak negatively about it.
  • 23% of customers who had a positive service interaction told 10 or more people.
  • 48% of customers who had negative experiences told 10 or more people.

Why That Customer Service Complaint is a Gift

While customers are more likely to complain, see it as a gift. They have taken their valuable time to give the feedback directly to the company. The business benefits in two ways:

  • The company gets a chance to turn around their experience. Surveys show that a dissatisfied customer whose problem is fixed becomes even more loyal to the company.
  • The company gets valuable feedback that many other customers have experienced, but never mentioned. Customer service is a moving target so customer concerns may change every month.

What Should a Company Do?

Listen carefully to make sure they understand the concern. Try not to find blame or hide problems. Ask the customer for their best solution. Get back to the customer on how it will be solved.

Collect all of these concerns so an overall trend can be spotted by the company.

How can you treat customer complaints as a gift?

Angry Photo via Shutterstock

16 Comments ▼

Barry Moltz


Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

16 Reactions

  1. I would like to add another type of customer.

    “For the better” customer:Those that like the company and are repeat customers. They keep to themselves unless they see something needs improvement. They will speak up to the organization so that they next time they go back it improves or is in the process. These customers speak to the organization not making a big deal out of it. It is purely for the customer’s own satisfaction so they can feel like they are making a difference.

  2. I think that a complaint is a terrible thing to hear, but it is necessary to the well being of your company. It can be used as a tool to get things back on track or make things better for your customers in the future.

  3. Barry Moltz

    Complaints are better than people sulking away in silence…at least there is a chance to improve and satisfy the customer!

    • That’s right. Complaints is a sign that something is lacking. You can go at it in two ways. You can be very defensive about it and do nothing or you can see it as a chance to improve. We all know that wise business owners take the second route.

  4. In my design business, I always tell my clients the best feedback we can get is “you nailed it!” But the second best feedback we can get is, “you totally missed the mark.” When we screw up, we get more information about how to do it right the next time. That’s invaluable to us.

    • Ann

      Indeed, constructive feedback is what we want. It’s the secret to product/service development :)

      When we get negative feedback, we tend to defend ourselves. Our ego often blur our motive. With that being said, a company which culture cherishes negative feedback will definitely find success!

  5. Martin Lindeskog

    The constructive complaint by a customer via social media could be turned around and the customer could become a new ambassador for the company.

  6. One additional step that a company should take is to determine their Lifetime Customer Value (LCV). This will help guide them on how and when to resolve a customer complaint so that the resolution is Win/Win.

  7. Barry Moltz

    Agreed but hard to figure out Life time value these days with so much social sharing going on!

  8. That’s right. When you’re not hearing much from your customers, then you need to reach out to them more often. An ignorant bliss doesn’t go very well in business, so customer complaint is more than what you need to build your service better.

  9. I could not let the irony of the moment pass. I read this post soon after reading a customer complaint against Air France going viral on social media and AF trying hard to turn a deaf ear to a customer’s voice. It’s interesting really.

    For the inquisitive ones – search for Jay Shah and AF.

  10. Do you believe in “blessings in disguise”? Well, that complaint is one excellent example. Use it to your advantage—to make your company and your customer service better. This way, you have a better chance of making your clients happy, and ultimately, having them as loyal customers.

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