The Power of Indirect Complaining

a sky view of power lines criss-crossing on a pole

“If no one is complaining about our website, then there is nothing wrong.” Have you heard this before? It’s a reactive attitude toward design and business, and it’s not a mindset you want to be in. How often had you had a bad experience at a website or business and made an effort to file a complaint? Wasn’t it easier to simply move on and take your business elsewhere? The truth of the matter is that most people behave in this way. They are more likely to quietly take their business to another competitor if they have a bad experience.

So you’re saying people who have bad web experiences don’t tell anyone, Maria? Oh it’s definitely no secret. Yes, they do tell people, but they’re not going to be filing complaints to the people who can address and/or fix the problem. We’re busy people. We don’t have time for that interaction. They will talk about their bad experience to their friends and family and in between to ensure their voice gets heard and that the “bad” business doesn’t get any new business! And the negative branding continues from there.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before—someone has a bad experience and they tell 10 other close acquaintances about it. These days, they’re more likely to also blast it out on social media channels and hashtag it up. However, despite this knowing, businesses often forget the power and realistic facts about complaining behavior. They spend costs and effort on a website as if it’s a commodity that gets done and rests on its own afterward. A website design is a living document that must be continuously nourished like a fire, or its purpose will burn out.

You cannot run a business with a mindset of assumption. Just because no one is complaining about your website directly does not mean it can’t use improvements to its user experience, content, design, and all other marketing systems that connect with it. Quiet too can have its way of speaking loudly. Don’t wait for this news to get back to you.

Takeaway: People who have a complaint about their website experience will often quietly take their business elsewhere rather than directly address the problem to the company and give them time to correct it and try again.

Actions Steps: Don’t wait for feedback before considering design improvements. Be proactive, and ask for feedback as an ongoing process before, during, and after making changes.

  • Make it part of your business process to regularly assess your website design with your audience users. Use this assessment to determine if your design is helping or hurting your business goals.
  • Find and make opportunities to ask for feedback about your website, whether its through surveys, interviews, focus groups, usability tests, or another method of User Experience (UX) research. This will concurrently provide an opportunity to connect with your audience, build trust, and promote your brand as doing due diligence in keeping your business relevant to their needs
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
– Jack Welch –
Founder of Creative Seed, Maria Gosur is a designer, developer, entrepreneur, and educator who loves to learn, grow, inspire, succeed, and help others do the same.

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