Irk a Customer? You Probably Won’t Hear About It … Unless You Ask

Irk a Customer? You're Probably Won't Hear About It ... Unless You Ask for Customer Feedback

If one of your customers left your business unsatisfied or even a little ticked, there’s a good chance you — and the rest of world — may never hear about it.

Yes, in a world where it’s so easy to spout off and drag your business through the mud on social media or with an online review, about 67 percent of consumers say they’ll stay silent on a bad experience with a local merchant. That’s the finding from a series of surveys conducted by and its founder Mike Blumenthal.

The same study — taken from a survey of 365 consumers — found that only 34.5 percent will actually complain about a bad experience they’ve had at a local merchant. Worried about your online reputation? The complaints will likely be filed in person. Only 12.6 percent of those responding say that they’d write a bad review of the business online … and, of course, never go back.

More than a quarter of the more than 300 asked — 28.8 percent, specifically — say they’d remain quiet after a bad experienced but never go back to the place again. And another 24.1 percent say they’d not only remain silent about the poor customer service they’d received. They would likely give the place another try.

So, can this apparent reluctance on the part of dissatisfied customers to tell you, others they no or the whole internet about a bad experience they had wit your business be looked at as a good thing — even if it means, in some cases, you will never see them again? Hardly, says Blumenthal.

The Benefit of Asking for Customer Feedback

In fact, he says, you should be asking for feedback from your customers. After all, if you’ve delivered a bad experience and the customer never says a word, how can you prevent it from happening — and again ad again?

“You’re not asking for complaints, you’re asking for feedback. Ask every customer for feedback,” Blumenthal said in an interview with Small Business Trends. “Most small businesses never ask.”

In fact, Blumenthal insists that, in the long run, inviting feedback — including complaints — could actually benefit your business. It’s just a matter of phrasing the solicitation for feedback in the right way.

He suggests using a net promoter score where customers are asked to rate their experiences at checkout from 1 to 10, for example.

The key to using feedback — positive or negative — is to take it in, decide what it all means and then use it to make your business better.


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

2 Reactions
  1. Yes. You can turn it around by just being proactive about it. It will make them less angry and more open to expressing themselves.

  2. Those disgruntled customers may not tell you about their dissatisfaction. But, you can be sure they will tell as many of their family, friends and colleagues about their less than impressive experience. Not following up and seeking feedback can be the cannon ball that sinks your small business. Bad news travels fast, like a pebble dropped in a pond creating mini waves outward.