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Never Mistake Silence for Satisfaction

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“Silence is golden.”

Really?  Not from my perspective.  In fact, when it comes to customer service, I think silence is dangerous.

Here’s why: most unhappy customers will never say a word to you.  They’ll just take their business elsewhere.  According to consumer-complaint experts Nancy Stephens and Kevin P. Gwinner, co-authors of “Why Don’t Some People Complain?  A Cognitive-Emotive Process Model of Consumer Complaint Behavior,” customers avoid complaining because they:

  • simply want to avoid the stress of confrontation;
  • fear that by complaining, others will view them negatively;
  • blame themselves for service problems.

These are just a few explanations for silent, yet dissatisfied, customers.  In this video, Guy Winch, psychologist and author of “The Squeaky Wheel:  Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships, and Enhance Self-Esteem,” discusses other reasons why customers don’t complain:


Though the reasons for it may vary, silent dissatisfaction creates consistent results – unhappy customers and lost business.

There’s a moral to this post:  make it easy for your customers to complain.  Actively solicit feedback on your service and placements.  Require coordinators and account reps to follow-up after the sale.  Never assume that, because you haven’t heard about problems, everything is fine.  Do these things and you’ll have ample opportunities to turn disgruntled (if silent) customers into your biggest fans – and ultimately retain their business.

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