Survey: 8 Things That Really Cause Consumers to Complain

In June, Mike Blumenthal takes a deep look at customer complaints with a series of articles.  View all of the posts covering strategy, ideas, customer insight, survey data and more to improve how your business handles customer complaints.

In an effort to understand how a business can better minimize the negative impact of consumer complaints and maximize the possible benefit of handling them well, GetFiveStars is conducting a number of consumer surveys to explore this issue.

In this survey question we asked a representative sample of U.S. consumers (n=499) an open ended question.

When dealing with a local merchant, what will cause you to complain?

We then categorized their responses into themes.

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Roughly 20 themes emerged but only 8 really showed any frequency and of those only 2 themes were repeated over and over again.

Customer Service & Employee Behavior Causes The Most Complaints – 57%

Customer service (or a lack there of) and employees behaviors dominated their thoughts and clearly outpaced the other annoyances. This isn’t a surprise and these two are tightly if not completely intertwined.

Service issues represented 34% of the responses and employee attitudes or behavior accounted for 23% of the answers respectively.

Together these two areas together accounted for 57% of the total responses.

Low Product Quality, Speed & High Prices Combined for 21%

Low product quality, speed and high prices together garnered 21% of the mentions. These eight areas collectively accounted for 78% of the answers and obviously provide a framework for a business to start analyzing their processes to reduce the likelihood of these issues occurring.

When dealing with a local merchant, what will cause you to complain?

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Of note to me and something that most businesses should take heed of is that pricing is way down the lists of complaints accounting for a mere 5% of the respondents. In the end, despite the fact that we fear we need to keep lowering our prices to keep our customers happy there are other fish to fry that are of much more importance to consumers.

Unhappy Customers Are Often Quiet & Don’t Return

complaint kept quiet

Most consumers don’t express their complaints and will often just stop frequenting a business when dissatisfied. This in itself is all the more reason to proactively engage your customers in a feedback process.  And yet repeat customers are really the life blood of any business generating significantly more lifetime value and at a lower cost.

Understanding the pain points of your business is needed to outline a path to correction. If a local business can understand the most common areas of consumer pain, they can then work to minimize them.

Start Listening To Your Customers

I spent many years laboring in the trenches of a local bricks and mortar business. And during all that time and with millions of dollars of annual sales and thousands of customers I never once surveyed my customers to understand what we were doing wrong or could be doing better. One of the main reasons that I helped design GetFiveStars the way it is so that other local businesses would not make the same mistake.

Whether you use GetFiveStars or some other method, start asking your customers today. Find out where you might be falling short and fix it.

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