How to Hunt Down Hidden Complaints to Gain True Value

3rd July 2015Change Management

Want More Sales? Then Invite More Complaints!

For every 1 customer who complains, there may be a staggering 24 others who don’t bother and 9 out of 10 of these could be lost to you for ever*

If you don’t hear from 96% of your unhappy customers, how are you going to fix their problem and persuade them to stay?

And this kind of feedback is pure gold. So, it makes sense to seek it out everywhere.

What do top performing businesses such as Amazon do?


  • Make it easy for customers to give feedback
  • Make this feedback visible to all through online product and service reviews
  • Acknowledge complaints instantly
  • Resolve them rapidly

Then they go 2 steps further than many other companies. They look for the 96% who don’t complain.

So how do you find these customers?

Reach out for feedback from as many customers as possible on a regular basis

Continually ask for feedback through postal, telephone or email surveys, comment cards and social media. Teasing out information from those customers who were not originally minded to complain also gets you a whole load of positive reviews in the process from your many satisfied customers.

Carry out active social listening and intervene to resolve complaints that don’t come in through your official channels

Believe it or not, there are still companies out there that shy away from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other digital platforms but no brand can afford to turn a deaf ear to social media channels buzzing with complaints……and compliments.

By actively seeking out negative customer feedback and acting smartly on it, responsive companies manage to retain up to 70% of customers who otherwise would have left and never come back.

Better still: by listening and responding to complaints, they demonstrate that they truly value their customers’ business

Numerous research studies have shown that customers with issues that are resolved quickly often turn into loyal customers and even brand advocates.

Still not convinced about inviting more complaints?

That’s understandable. After all, it costs money to seek out those additional dissatisfied customers and deal with them effectively.

However, done well, the cost may be a lot lower than you might think and the margin on retained customers will more than pay for this investment. Plus, the more customer feedback you receive, the more your products and services can be further developed to better meet evolving customer needs, resulting in lower levels of complaint in the future.

The alternative?

The alternative is to remain blissfully ignorant of a large number of dissatisfied customers, accepting that 9 out of 10 of these will not buy again and many of them will generate negative word of mouth about your company and your brands.

Whatever happens, you will have to replace these lost customers.

According to Bain & Company on average it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.

It is almost always more cost effective for a business to hold on to existing customers compared with winning new ones, regardless of the products and services you sell or the industry to which your company belongs.

Keeping the customers we have and serving them better is the simple logic of customer experience.

Inviting feedback – the good, the bad and the ugly – and acting upon it is a key driver of competitive advantage in today’s digitally connected world where service can make or break a brand.

Have you reached out to dissatisfied customers who didn’t take the trouble to complain through your official channels?

Do you actively track negative sentiment in social media and engage with this to improve your products and services?

I’d love to hear from you.

Happy hunting!

*“Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell- Legner

** “Being Human is Good Business” by Kristin Smaby