Good Customers Complain, Bad Customers Go Away

Some CEOs with fragile egos may tighten up when they run into a customer who is passionately unhappy, but those customers are gold. They’re gifts! Pay attention to passion, even if their passion is anger. Take it as a compliment; it means they care enough about your product that it angers them not to have it.

I’ve heard from a lot of business owners who say to me, “Why aren’t we getting more business? The customers aren’t calling.”

I’ll ask, “Do you know why?”

And they have no idea. I’m thinking, Maybe it’s your service!       

Of course, I never tell them that. I just say, “You know, just because your customers aren’t telling you that you’re giving them bad service doesn’t mean you’re not giving them bad service.”

The good customers complain; the bad ones just go away.

Let me illustrate: If you have a bad meal at a lousy restaurant, do you tell the owner about it? No, you just go away. Now, let’s say you go to your favorite restaurant and have a bad experience. You’re shocked, right? You’re hurt. You can’t believe it. You’re probably going to say something because you love that restaurant so much. You want them to fix it so you can keep coming back and enjoying the food.

I know this from personal experience. I’ve invested in five restaurants throughout my career. My first was in New Jersey. The food was amazing, but it was plagued with bad customer service. I remember every time a friend would tell me about a bad experience, I’d ask my operating partner about it, and boy, would I hear excuses. “Oh, they came late,” or “They took too long to order and made so many changes.”

It would drive me nuts. I’d say, “Stop blaming the customer!”

Well, guess what? That restaurant went out of business.

I believe so much in the power of “the customer is always right” mindset that I’ve ingrained it deep into the culture of every one of my businesses, and it’s worked. Even to this day, if I hear about an unhappy customer, I see to it that his or her problem is fixed—then, boom! Suddenly, that raving mad customer is back to being a raving fan of our work.


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