customer criticism

Love the Haters: Why Criticism is a Good Thing

A customer says something bad about you online, sharing their criticism of you for all the world to see. What do you do, business?  What. Do. You. Do?

Multiple Choice Question:
A)   Ignore it.
B)   Listen and acknowledge the complaint.
C)   Engage to determine the problem so as not to do it again.
D)   Sever all contact and go about your business like it never happened.

Put a pin in that as we’ll come back to it.

I was really excited about the release of Netflix to Canada. I’m a movie freak that was going to get an onslaught of films.  Hell, their twitter account started following me the day before they begin the rollout. It was all very exciting.

Well the product didn’t have the variety I was hoping for and they hit a public relations hiccup by paying actors to be enthusiastic members of the announcement audience…so I tweeted. I tweeted my displeasure. What did Netflix do? They stopped following me.

“Social” in social media means to engage.

Did I have a reason to be annoyed? Of course I did, I’m a paying customer. What should they have done? Either responded to my criticism or, at the least, listened. I understand it’s a big day for them so you may not see every tweet but you must have seen mine or you wouldn’t have unfollowed me.

I’ve spoken with people that are nervous of criticism online. A bad comment that sits on their Facebook wall, a verbal attack on Twitter…but these aren’t bad things. These are an amazing opportunity to clarify information, find out how you can better your product/service and show your customers you care. A chance to show your human side. The customers obviously care or they wouldn’t have complained.

To get back to my multiple-choice question earlier, Netflix went with “D”. I suggest “C.”

If a customer has something negative to say, look at it as an opportunity to build a relationship, not to end one.


  • Vote for C: A company who is just moving into Canada for the first time should be listening to criticisms that people in their new market have of them. Not shutting down.

    Why does this hide/ignore affliction tend to be a case a lot with larger companies. While smaller companies are desperate for your business so they’re more receptive.

  • I don’t understand that approach at all. My previous boss told me, “I ALWAYS want that angry customer, the one that has complaints about the company/business. That’s an opportunity to turn things around and an opportunity to improve.” Thats the way I approach the scenario as well. In a customer service environment, there’s nothing more satisfying than turning things around for a customer expressing displeasure.

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