Friday, June 21, 2024

Complaining Customers Are Good

Remember the Coca Cola marketing disaster a few years ago? They tried to switch Coke drinkers to New Coke. It didn’t work. Fortunately, the company quickly recognized the problem and had the resources to recover fast. Their follow up research revealed that only 1 unhappy customer in 50 takes time to complain. The other 49 just quietly switch brands.

It’s human nature to avoid unpleasant experiences like customer complaints. Nobody likes bad news. But uncovering customer complaints and satisfying them can give you a powerful competitive advantage.


Dissatisfied customers or clients can do one of 4 things:

1. Remain silent
2. Complain to a legal or public agency
3. Complain to friends and anybody else who will listen 4. Complain to you

Which choice would you like them to make? The best choice may surprise you.

You certainly don’t want them to complain to a legal or public agency. And you definitely don’t want them to complain to their friends and associates. Imagine how much business that can cost you.

Remaining silent may seem like the best choice. But it’s not, for 2 reasons. First, because it really won’t happen. It’s human nature for people to talk about their experiences — especially experiences involving emotions like those generated by an unsatisfactory business transaction. The other reason you don’t want a dissatisfied customer to remain silent is because it deprives you of the chance to correct the problem and save your relationship with your customer.

The best choice is to have your unhappy customer complain to you.


Customers or clients who take the time and trouble to complain to you are doing you a favor. They’re helping you grow your business. They’re giving you the opportunity to resolve their problem and keep them as a customer. They’re also alerting you to a problem that may be costing you business from other prospects and customers without your knowledge.

This applies to every business including independent distributors for MLM or network marketing companies. If the problem is in your area of responsibility you can correct it. If the problem is with your company’s product or system you can advise them and ask them to correct it. You can also reduce the impact of a company problem on your operation by telling your distributors about it and letting them know the company is taking corrective action.


The Coca Cola Company discovered their New Coke marketing disaster quickly because they print a toll-free consumer information telephone number on all their product packages. The sudden deluge of complaint calls alerted them immediately to the extent of the problem and enabled them to respond fast to minimize the damage. I wonder how long it would have taken them to discover the problem if they didn’t provide that telephone number and encourage complaints?

A toll-free consumer information line is one way to encourage customer complaints and feedback. Here are 3 others especially suited to small businesses on a limited budget.

* Develop a customer satisfaction and comments form. Include it with products you ship or with correspondence to customers and clients if you don’t ship products.

* Send a follow up postcard to customers a week or 10 days after completing a transaction and ask if everything is OK. You can do this by email or telephone if it’s appropriate.

* Create a separate page at your website for customer comments and complaints. Publicize the address on your home page and on all communications with your customers.

Your customers and clients know your strengths and weaknesses better than you. Get them to identify your weaknesses and tell you what they are so you can correct them. It may be uncomfortable or ego deflating to hear about your weaknesses. But you’ll soon forget that when you take corrective action and see the positive impact it has on your bottom line.

Bob Leduc spent 20 years helping businesses like yours find
new customers and increase sales. He just released a New
Edition of his manual, How To Build Your Small Business Fast
With Simple Postcards and several other publications to help
small businesses grow and prosper. Find out about his highly
effective low-cost marketing methods at:
or call: 702-658-1707 After 10 AM Pacific Time/Las Vegas, NV

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles