Typically, customers don’t leave a company suddenly. They leave bit by bit, little by little, some loudly, some silently. The “silent defectors” are the most injurious to a business. Firstly, they leave emotionally, then psychologically, all the while reducing their business activity. Then comes the final nail in the coffin, that one episode that causes complete transactional withdrawal, completely severing the relationship.

The Customer Complaint Iceberg suggests that only 1 in 26 customers formally complain about poor service to the offending party, the other 25 complain to friends, relatives and pretty much anyone who will spare the time to listen. These are the silently unhappy customers who may experience one or more pain points when interacting with a company. It’s also easy to miss their gradual withdrawal……especially if the company is not paying attention.

So why does this slow drift spell trouble for a company? Because over time, if the pain points are not corrected, more and more customers either will leave without saying goodbye or become fair game for the competition. Either way, this means an eventual slow death for the company.

The disturbing part of all of this is that a large number of companies do not know how many of their customers are silently unhappy. Many companies focus on attracting new customers without making equal effort to keep existing customers and it’s easy to miss the exodus in the midst of the customer churn.

The good news is that with a little effort it’s possible to keep customer exodus to a minimum. The low hanging solution lies in a company’s commitment to providing a “live” platform to hear the “Voice Of The Customer” and no, comment cards that are left on their own do not qualify as a “live” platform.

A “live Voice Of The Customer” platform provides customers with multiple channels of access to voice their concerns, vexations, compliments and suggestions. These channels can take the form of your traditional live representative, a social media site, an SMS portal, a chat portal or an email point of access. Additionally, this platform should enjoy customer confidence gleaned from customers receiving acknowledgement of their submissions and ongoing updates on the actions being taken by the company to address issues raised by customers.

Customer confidence in the process of company to customer communications is crucial to building customer loyalty. When a company constantly “listens” to its customers and then acts swiftly on feedback, the reward is rich feedback, an upsurge in brand reputation and a reliable body of psychographic data upon which the company can make revenue impacting decisions.



It’s easy to get started on discovering and reducing the level of silently unhappy customers:

  1. Conduct a survey to determine if customers are unhappy about the service or products that the company provides.
  1. Establish a feedback mechanism that will get customers to talk through:
  • Live service representatives
  • Chat, email and text channels
  1. Present customers with comment cards whilst their transaction is being completed. Ensure a minimum number of cards are completed by customers daily. Pay attention to the complaint.

4. Close the loop. When customers provide feedback, acknowledge their submission within 24 hours and keep them  updated on progress throughout  the solution process.

5. Incentivize and reward customers for valuable feedback.

When customer engagement becomes a way of life for a company, the platform not only becomes “live” but also “real time,” thus increasing the value added to the customer experience and ultimately converting customers into company advocates who are no longer fair game for the competition.