Consider the following statistics –

  • 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain.
  • 91% of those unhappy customers will simply leave and never come back.
  • A dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about their experience.
  • About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.
  • For every customer complaint, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent.

There are reasons that customers don’t complain, and this can really hurt your business. If you are not aware of the issues your customers face, you are not able to fix them. It is important that you know why people do not complain so that you can ensure that your business is accessible and providing opportunities for your growth and development by meeting customer needs at every turn.

In 2020, customer service and personalisation need to be a priority for businesses as customers are given more options and have the opportunity to find other products or services fast, online.

So why don’t customers complain?

1. It Requires Too Much Effort

Do you make your customers work to make a simple complaint to you? One of the major reasons why customers don’t complain is a cumbersome complaint process which discourages complaints.

It is easier for the customer to just walk away than fill a 3-page complaint form or download an app in order to make a complaint or share feedback.  To find out if the processes in your business are discouraging complaints, ask these questions;

  • Is there a dedicated complaint channel available? (Telephone, email etc)
  • Are these channels easy to find? (Are they visible and boldly displayed)
  • Is the complaint process simple? (How many steps does it take to complain)

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to share feedback and complaints with your business. Eliminate any unnecessary processes or actions that would discourage customers from making the effort to complain or share feedback with you.

2. Customers Believe There’s No Point

Some customers don’t see the point in complaining. They feel like nothing is going to be done about it, and they can develop a sense of apathy towards your business if they have made an effort to complain or share feedback in the past, and nothing was done about it.

For example, a customer might complain to a manager about dull lighting at your front desk, 2 weeks later they visit again and the dull lighting is the same. Why would they bother telling you about the dirty bathroom or the employee with a bad attitude?

The biggest compliment you can give a customer who complains is to address their issues. It proves to the customer that taking the time to make the complaint was worthwhile.

3. Unknown Outcomes

Some customers won’t complain if they feel that it could affect someone’s job security or have a negative impact on their ongoing customer relationship with your business.

One way to eliminate this hindrance is to make the customer’s identity as discreet as possible, and let customers know that their feedback or complaint is used to train employees and improve services.

Make use of review sites like ServiceGuru and Yelp. These platforms make it possible for customers to rate your business and your employees. You then know which employee is contributing positively to the customers’ experience, and those who need further training.  Using this medium helps protect the customer’s identity and makes them feel more empowered when sharing feedback.

4. Personality

Some customers will only complain when they’ve been pushed to the limits. Some people are timid and do not see any need to express themselves when a business disappoints them. These sort of customers will normally exercise a good deal of self-control, they will often favour avoidance over confrontation.

Rather than speak up, these customers often choose to stay silent. To reach these customers, you need to be proactive about soliciting feedback.

5. You Never Asked

If you ask, people will respond. Ask your customers for feedback and encourage them to voice any complaints. This is the best way to get them to share valuable feedback that can help you improve your products, services, and processes.

Encourage employees to solicit feedback from customers and evaluate their findings, survey customers or do follow-up calls after they’ve completed a transaction with you. All you need to do is ask.

If you choose to survey your customers, keep them short and focused. Customer service expert Jeff Toister recommends asking just 3 questions whenever possible:

  1. How would you rate (product/service/experience)?
  2. Why did you give that rating? (open text response)
  3. May we follow-up with you if we have additional questions?

6. They Have Made Up Their Minds

There are customers who will not complain. You will never hear from them because they have decided not to do business with you anymore. They will endure whatever discomfort or pain they have encountered because they have decided that it is the last time they will ever do business with you, and you won’t hear from them again.

However, you can still make things right with customers by following up. Following up with customers after a business transaction sends a strong message that you actually value their opinion, this makes it easy for them to share candid feedback about what they like or what needs improvement. It allows customers to be anonymous and inform you in a passive way how they rate the experience, which benefits your understanding of your business’ processes.


As a business, complaints should be taken seriously. It is the feedback that can help you to expand, understand who your customers are and stay in touch with what people want from your brand and your business.