Column: No news is not good news


Commentary by George Klein

When it comes to customer experience, don’t mistake a lack of complaints for good news. It is nice to think that we provide consistently awesome experiences for customers, but the reality is things go wrong. As many as 96 percent of customers don’t complain. Most of them just take their business elsewhere.

So, why don’t customers complain and give us a chance to make things right?

It’s too hard

We don’t make it easy for customers to complain. We make them work to find a way to complain. They have to search for a phone number, and when they make a call, they are put on hold, processed through a phone tree or transferred around to different people.

If they find an email, they have to go to great lengths to explain the problem and then hope someone responds to them. Web forms require customers to fill in a lot of irrelevant information and often generate marketing emails before the problem is even acknowledged.

It doesn’t really matter

Complaints are often handled by frontline employees who have limited ability to resolve a problem. In addition, customers don’t have confidence that the frontline employees will share their problem with management, so nothing will really change.

Fear of negative impacts

Customers can be afraid of what employees might do to them if they complain. Will employees make the situation worse in some way? Fears of sabotaged food, delayed service or even the wrong product or service stops customers from complaining.

No one asked for feedback

It’s hard to get customer feedback, and many businesses simply don’t try.

Recently, many have turned to email surveys as a primary way to get feedback. Many surveys focus on what the company wants to know, leaving little opportunity for customers to share what’s important to them.

Customers are inundated with surveys and often just don’t respond. We’ve encountered businesses that ask for feedback but suggest that you don’t respond at all unless or until you can give them the highest ratings. That is like saying, “Don’t complain.”

Encouraging complaints is worth it

We should welcome customer complaints! They are a great source of information. They let us fix problems and hopefully save customers. Encouraging all feedback, especially complaints, should be part of every employees’ job. It starts with making it easy for customers to share feedback at any point in their experience, genuinely welcoming customer complaints and acting on the feedback to make improvements. Ninety-seven percent of consumers said they are likely to become more loyal to a company that acts on their feedback.

Resolving issues increases customer loyalty and increased loyalty leads to higher profits. Loyal customers shop more often, spend more money and tell others about their experience.

George Klein is the CEO/Founder of Peoplocity, a customer feedback and communication platform. Contact him at  


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