Loyalty Leader Quick Tips

Customer Silence is Not Always Golden

August 18, 2011

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A customer complaint is often a gift. It generally means that a customer cares enough about doing business with your company to give you a second chance. But what if no one’s complaining? Is it true that “no news is good news?” Not when it comes to customers.

Silence is not always golden. It’s usually the quiet customers who leave. Most unhappy customers don’t bother to complain because they don’t believe anyone will listen. Or, even if someone does listen, they don’t believe anything will change because of their complaint. There are many times that customers experience problems and choose not to say anything about it. So the silences accumulate until they become so frustrated that they quietly look for another place to take their business.

There are different types of quiet customers to consider:

Satisfied Customers

Most businesses assume that the majority of their customers are satisfied because they haven’t heard complaints from them. Satisfied often means “neutral” and these customers are keeping one eye open to see if they can find a better place to take their business. The Internet has made it easier than ever to search. Don’t settle for satisfied customers. Focus on building loyalty. Loyal customers are more likely to complain because they believe you care enough to fix the problem.


These customers are usually very busy and they don’t want to waste their time by complaining. So they let the problems collect until they become so frustrated that they unleash their anger when you ask, “How are you doing today?”


These customers are very uncomfortable when dealing with conflict so they will avoid it by dashing to a different company that offers similar products or services.


These customers are the ones who say to themselves, “I’m guessing that they already know about this problem so I won’t bother telling anyone.”   It’s important to make it easy for your customers to give you timely, honest feedback. This means developing a system where complaints are invited and recognized as tools for developing stronger customer relationships.

Communication with your customers needs to be honest and invite feedback. Written customer satisfaction surveys are one way to get feedback, but they don’t always provide an accurate picture. Most customers don’t want to take time from their busy schedules to answer the questions and they’re even less likely to write their opinions on the comment lines. Telephone and face-to-face conversations are the perfect time to invite customer comments.

Here are a few tips:

  • End each conversation with an open-ended question. For example: “What suggestions do you have on how we can provide even better service for you the next time you call?”
  • Invite questions from your customers. For example: “Do you have any questions about the way we handle your service requests?”
  • Be very gracious when a customer does complain. Always thank him or her for bringing the problem to your attention. Never get defensive.

No news is not usually good news when it comes to your customers. Inviting your customers to complain will make it easy for them to express their opinions. Complaints give your customers the opportunity to vent their frustrations so you can quickly resolve the problems before they decide to leave. They also generate ideas on how you can continually improve service delivery. But more importantly, encouraging ongoing feedback will help you to cultivate loyalty with the most important people in your company–your customers.

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