complainerMy wife grew up in a small town in the Texas panhandle. So it’s needless to say that high school sports were a big deal. She and many of her friends were huge supporters of her high school’s varsity teams merely because there was little else to do, unless you get big thrills out of watching tumbleweeds roll by. They would go all out sponge painting t-shirts, cheering, and making signs to hold up at the games.

During basketball season, she and a group of friends came up with a clever (but slightly devious) idea for a cheer to use at an upcoming game. They even made signs to further reinforce their witty cheer and to make sure everyone in the arena could see.

They waited until the game heated up and the opportune time to reveal their scheme presented itself. Sure enough, one of the officials made a controversial call against their school and the crowd got heated. That’s when they whipped their signs and started their taunting, “Nuts and Bolts, Nuts and Bolts! We Got Screwed!” Many in the crowd joined in the jeering contagious chant.

I enjoy seeing this type of thing at sporting events. It makes the games interesting and exciting. It’s not that I like to see actions that some would consider bad sportsmanship. I just like the unexpectedness of games where the fans are just as intense as the players. In this environment, the true colors of fans, players and officials can be seen immediately.

There are always going to be complainers. Even though they aren’t in the game where all the action is, they want to make their opinions known. Some people feel it is their job to complain and express their anxiety vocally, and they have an immense ability to get others to join in complaining. This poses the question, is this a bad thing?

In the world of business, we should seek out complainers and love the very moment we encounter a complainer. This might sound strange that we should look for people who hold such negative attitudes, but complainers can provide us with something that satisfied customers cannot. Here are a few reasons why complainers should be treated like the valuable assets they are:

  1. Complainers are Blatantly Honest

    They can and will tell you everything that’s working and everything that’s not. Listen because they will tell you things you didn’t even know about your own product or business. The Better Business Bureau states that, “Typically a business hears from only 4 percent of its dissatisfied customers. The other 96 percent just quietly go away and you will never know why.” This should give you a clue as to how important this feedback is.

  2. Complainers are Mavens

    Based on the fact that a complainer takes the time to get in touch with you and complain increases the odds that they are in fact mavens on the subject and are seeking to pass along information. This is the person that others will come to when they have a question regarding your product or business.

  3. Complainers can Become Your Best Customer

    A complainer, by complaining has showed you an interest in your product or company. Do what it takes to make it right and you will have one of your best customers.

Usually the customer that complains wants less than you think. Satisfy complainers. Appease them. Shape your product and company around their needs and wants. Give them what they want and you will have proved to them that you are insistent on customer’s needs being fully met. In return you will have won over one of your biggest assets: a blatantly honest and loyal maven. Add the connectors and you’ve got two ingredients for a Tipping Point scenario.