They only write when things go wrong

Published by on april 24, 2006 at 7:46 e m

If the only time companies get feedback from their customers is when they are not satisfied, then customers will learn not to be satisfied. Are complaints really the way to create customer satisfaction? Where did the small satisfied customer go? Dissatisfied customers are always seen and heard. The satisfied ones tend to be less vocal. Getting satisfied customers to be active is the first step towards creating a community. Many companies are good at building up customer complaints departments, but less so at devoting resources to harnessing the positive energy of the satisfied customer. “Can you tell me the names of your five most satisfied customers?” is one of my favorite questions to ask customer service employees.
I once asked one of the world’s most prominent professors of marketing specializing in customer complaints if he had ever studied satisfied customers. The professor answered straight-faced but with a touch of dry humor: “We haven’t gotten that far in our research yet.”
As Abba pointed out a quarter-century ago in The Winner Takes it All, there’s no need to complain when things are clear and simple. I would like to know why you have to turn into a monster before companies treat you like a human being. It is only when you complain the loudest that you get good service. When you’re well behaved, you tend to get poorer service or none at all. If you don’t believe me, just look at the room-smashing rock star who gets all the service in the world.
Here’s a thought: perhaps dissatisfied customers who make a career of complaining shouldn’t be customers at all. The negative spirals they create bring down the morale of both personnel and other customers and can be a considerable economic burden to all parties.
The question is: how much is dissatisfaction with your company and its products and how much is dissatisfaction with the world in general? How do you find a reasonable level of responsibility for your company? When do you write?