No Medals for Complaint Complacency

By: Guest Blogger

November 1, 2016

complaint complacency
complaint handling
customer experience

By: Dale Roberts, VP of Professional Services for Clarabridge


As a true Brit, part of our national identity is our inability to complain or at least to do so well. If it were an Olympic sport, we would be coming home empty handed.

Years ago, while taking a break for lunch during a spell working with McGraw Hill and Reuters in New York, I actually apologised for finding glass in my soup. It was in a place that my lunch companions would have called upscale (what a fellow Brit might call shi-shi) just off Wall Street.  What I thought was a little piece of shell in a lobster bisque turned out to be glass.

A long line of apologies followed my own. First the waiter, then the chef, then the owner. A waistcoated server not even covering our table joined in, as did the guy who had been running the cloakroom when I arrived.

It was as if they were greeting the new owner, which is what I suspect they feared (especially in a city that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time could be a smidge litigious). They had nothing to fear. I was #verybritish. In spite of their stand-out apology relay, I think I still outdid them solo. An A for effort though.


Fast forward to 2016 and a little life experience has made me a much more constructive and, usually, courteous complainer.

What’s more, good businesses have become better at dealing with complaints. Rather than avoid or gloss over them, businesses now tackle complaints head on. All of which is a good thing, because review sites and social media have made complaints as visible as advertising. More so. The realism, grit (sorry is that glass?), or the pleasure of someone else’s ruined day can be far more compelling than marketing gloss.

So today complaints are opportunities to be seized. They are a window into where our systems, processes, and interactions can be improved. They are an opportunity to make it right for one customer and better for everyone else. In this month’s ClickZ article, I explain why this is not just a good thing, it’s the right thing.


To read Dale Roberts’ full article on how companies can take advantage of customer complaints, read his article published online in ClickZ.


About the author

Dale Roberts

Dale is VP of Professional Services for Clarabridge, author, commentator, columnist and speaker.

As a professional services leader for Clarabridge in Europe, Roberts is advising some of the world’s largest companies on optimising the customer experience using social and digital insights. Prior to this he was part of the founding circle of Artesian Solutions, an innovator in social CRM and a Director of Services for business intelligence giant Cognos.

His first book, Decision Sourcing, is an inspiring commentary on the impact of social on corporate decision making. His latest, World of Workcraft, is a timely piece on engagement, motivation and digital humanism in the workplace.

Roberts was identified one of the top thought leaders in big data and analytics by Analytics Week, a contributor to business and technology publications including Wired and ClickZ and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.