“Please complain”

Acquiring and processing user feedback is a choice.

There are good reasons to hide from it:

  • You might believe that inviting disgruntled customers to call or write to someone who will actually take action will encourage them to become more disgruntled. If no one is listening, the thinking goes, then perhaps the annoyed will quietly go away.
  • You might believe that it's expensive to listen to squeaky wheels, particularly if you have someone in authority (as opposed to a low-paid clerk) actually listening and responding.
  • You might believe that the noisy minority don't share the objectives of the rest of your audience, particularly the higher-paying and silent majority.

On the other hand, you might believe:

  • That direct feedback in real time is a competitive advantage which will help you grow.
  • That assuaging an unhappy customer now is worth way more than negative word of mouth later.

Whichever strategy you choose, you should choose. It's the middle way that vexes… the pretending, the grudging acceptance, the insertion of many levels of filters–when you do this, you get none of the benefits of either plan.

If you want people to speak up, be clear and mean it. If you don't, don't pretend.