Complain Like Hell Again!

Last summer, I wrote an article titled Complain like Hell and Win A Prize! It extolled the virtues of encouraging all feedback from your visitors. Yep even negative feedback.

Why encourage negative feedback? Because, from time to time, you’ll screw up, and one or more customers will become upset.

There are two things that can happen with an upset customer.

One: They’ll leave you and never return. And on the way out they’ll tell everyone else what a bad experience they had with you.

Two: They’ll complain like hell and you’ll have the opportunity to make things right and keep that customer.

But it’s not in most people’s nature to complain like hell. So to achieve option two, you have to be proactive and nearly beg them to complain. One way or another.

This last week, I came across two different approaches to handling customer complaints, taken by two very different web sites.

The first example concerns SimpleGiftsFarm and its owner, Doug Green. Doug had read my original Complain like Hell article and took the very brave decision to give it a try.

He invited his visitors to enter his ‘Complaint Contest’ for the chance to win a gardening book, written by Doug. Here, in his own words, is what happened.

“Ten minutes after the newsletter was sent out, the letters started coming in.

“The contest has helped me to focus on what I do best and what I do worst. I’ll be deleting the worst (subbing in some links to compensate) and focussing on the best stuff in the redesign. So much for static information — here’s looking at big-time increased interactivity. I have asked for feedback before on the site — to rousing silence and a few attaboys.

“It was only when I tied a contest to it and used the word ‘complaint’ that people started to focus on the improvements I needed to make. All apologized for doing so in the first sentence or two and then went on to say, ‘Since you asked for it.’ WHAM. It’s now the first *annual* complaint contest.”

Doug’s favorite reply to the contest? “The nicest one was from the Sister at a convent who told me not to worry about my imperfections. I was obviously a good gardener, and the rest just made it easier to get to know me.”

So who are you going to invest your next big chunk of cash with — eBay or Doug Green?

As far as I know, Doug is the only person who has created a ‘Complain Like Hell’ contest. If you know of any others, I’d love to hear about them. And if you don’t have the resources to create your own contest, you can visit us at and sign up for a personalized ‘Got a Complaint? – Send us a fork in the head’ button to stick on your home page.

Whatever the approach you take, there’s gold to be had from actively encouraging complaints from your visitors and customers.

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