Why You Should Encourage Customers to Complain





Customer complaints are just a part of doing business.

Reducing the number of those complaints is an admirable goal. But there’s another school of thought that says you should actually encourage customers to complain and try to get even more of them.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should provide bad service or sub-par products just to anger your loyal customers. What it means is that you should try to make it as easy as possible for customers to log their complaints with you when there is something that makes them unhappy about their experience.

Plenty of customers have had bad experiences with companies but chose not to complain for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it could be because it’s too complicated to reach out to a real person or they just feel like it won’t make any difference.

When those customers don’t complain, it means your company doesn’t get a chance to right the wrong. You don’t learn anything from the experience. And you’re likely to lose the customer even though they didn’t officially file a complaint with you.

For this reason, experts like Adrian Swinscoe, who recently covered this topic in a Forbes post, feel that encouraging unhappy customers to complain can have a huge impact on customer service. Swinscoe wrote:



“Encouraging complaints from customers will not only help firms get better at handling and resolving them it will also help them encourage their customers to provide better and more useful feedback. But also, and this is the icing on the cake, helping and encouraging customers to complain and get their complaints off their chest can also help them feel better and improve their perception and memory of the ‘experience’ that they have had.”

To make the whole experience easier and better for your customers, there are a few things you can do.

First, you should have a few clearly outlined ways for customers to lodge complaints with you if they have them. Since some customers are more comfortable reaching out in different ways, offering a few options, such as phone, email and social media, can be beneficial.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the time and manner in which you respond to complaints.

If you only read through them once a week and fail to respond in a way that’s acceptable for customers, then there’s no point in even encouraging them to complain in the first place. You simply reinforce the idea that complaining won’t accomplish anything.

When you get those complaints, make it a top priority to turn the experience around for your customers. A satisfactory response could lead to more customers feeling comfortable enough to complain which, over time, could lead to less of them feeling the need to do so in the first place.



Customer Feedback Form Photo via Shutterstock

3 Comments ▼


Annie Pilon - Staff Writer


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    While complaints generally don’t sound as good. They are good for improving your products and services for they are real feedback from unbiased customers.

  2. Interesting to see this article surrounded by all the news about Amazon, who while expanding their turf to grow business through thousands of 3rd party sellers:

    * only allows buyers 90 days from the date of purchase to provide seller feedback,
    * only allows buyers to provide seller feedback once the orders or returns have been marked “complete”, and then
    * lets those same 3rd party sellers control when orders are marked “complete” … including the power to wait until after the 90 day window for buyer feedback has closed.

    Anyone see a problem with this system? Anyone surprised at Amazon?

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