Title image for customer complaints are like icebergs


Have you ever received a customer complaint about an employee and thought a pep talk would solve the problem? After all, a complaint or two isn’t so bad, right? WRONG.

I recently talked to a client who was having issues with one of her employees. She’d gotten a few phone calls about the staffer from disgruntled customers in a single week—enough that she was worried and reached out to me for advice. As we talked, I realized she was missing the big issue. She wanted ideas for how to win back those few customers who had reported a poor service experience, but I was more worried about all the customers who hadn’t reached out to complain. It seemed her problem employee had just steered her into a massive iceberg that could mean devastation for her business. How so? Let’s look at the numbers.

I quickly calculated that the 3 or 4 negative calls my client had received might actually translate into 75-100 lost customers. Not just 75-100 individual lost sales, mind you, but customers who would never, ever return, resulting in the loss of future sales from them, too. Additionally, I knew that each of those unhappy customers was also deterring other people from coming into her store. All that damage was done in a single week, which meant that one employee could have single-handedly sunk her business if left unchecked for long. Drastic measures were needed to address the problem immediately.

What Do Icebergs & Customer Complaints Have in Common?

Icebergs are a terrifying sight for those sailors who travel the cold seas. Every sailor knows there’s a mountain of trouble just out of sight when they spot even the tiniest tip of an iceberg above the surface of the water. Icebergs can devastate even the biggest, most powerful ships, like the mighty Titanic in 1912. If a sailor spots an iceberg in the distance, it’s critical to their survival to change course immediately.

Your business is like a ship powering through the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, and success means navigating those treacherous waters without crashing against an iceberg of customer dissatisfaction. From the surface, a single customer complaint or two might look like a harmless little piece of floating ice, but chances are there’s a mountain of dissatisfied customers under that visible tip that could devastate your business and sink it like the Titanic.

If you get even one complaint from an unhappy customer who had a negative experience with one of your employees, you have to take action immediately. One complaint is an indication of a larger problem—a problem that needs your immediate attention if you’re going to turn your ship around in time to keep it afloat, because typically only 4% of unsatisfied customers actually reach out to a business about a bad experience. For every 1 you hear from, there are 26 more who just leave and never come back without telling you why. Twenty-six! Worse yet, your unhappy customers are twice as likely as happy customers to talk about their experiences.

Now can you see how a single complaint is really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg? Do you still want to hope a pep talk does the trick, or are you ready to do whatever’s necessary to steer your business away from danger?

You Can Change Course Before It’s Too Late

The good news is that you can make some simple shifts to your business and create customers for life. You just need the secret sauce that makes people hungry for more interactions with your business, and I can help. Keep reading this blog and you’ll be ready for smooth sailing.


Statistics complements of HelpScout.net’s 75 Customer Service Facts, Quotes & Statistics.


  1. Thanks for posting this brilliant article.
    I’m a long time reader however I’ve never actually left a comment.
    I’ve bookmarked your blog and shared this on my Facebook.
    Thanks again for a really good article!

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