So what do you do with the troublesome customers?
You listen to what they have to say, any customer that takes the time to complain about what you are doing is a CUSTOMER that wants to remain a customer. The best way to destroy a business is by IGNORING your customer. Listen, ask what can you do to remedy the situation, then do it and make the customer happy. Even if it means that, that one transaction is transacted at zero profit. An unhappy customer will tell 20 people about a bad experience, a happy customer may tell 3, at this point you want to retain the customer and avoid a lot of negative publicity, ideally in the process creating some good PR.
Is it true that the one who pays the least complains the most?
No. It is the one that cares the least that doesn’t take the time to let you know you are messing up. People complain because they are engaged, it is those that are apathetic towards your service or product that wont bother to let you know that you could improve it in a manner that better serves your customer. Better service equal happy customers equal more profits. Be grateful for the customers that take the time off of their day to let you know (for free) how to improve your business.
On another though similar note, are people who are receiving a free service entitled to complain?
Ditto # two
Are they being ungrateful or are they giving you valuable feedback?
They are engaged, companies spend billions of dollars in getting people to engage in their products/services in order to acquire that very valuable feedback.
Is feedback always valuable?
Yes. It is then up to you to turn that valuable feedback into profits by meeting your customers expectations, even (or specially) if they are using your product in a manner that it was not designed for. Or, you could simply tell your customers “sorry we didn’t design this widget to be used in that manner, please don’t buy our products if you intend to use them like that”. [edited to add: this last part was sarcasm ;-) I would hope nobody ever tells a customer such a thing]
Could it be possible that the one guy who asks you to change the shape of your ice-cream cones because he finds the existing design too "messy" really a good person to let guide you?
Yes. If your customer wants his ice-cream cone in a square shape, for crying out loud GIVE IT TO HIM like he wants it.
To whom do we listen the noisy minority or the silent majority?
You listen to both! To all! It is not a matter of this or that, they are all your customers! Every last one of them.
To whom do you listen? Shouldn`t you be listening to your customers? What if the only customers who respond with feedback happen to be four like-to-complain-about-everything type of person?
Listen to all and be grateful for those that take the time to let you know how to improve your business.
Is his/hers the type of feedback that would help you improve your product next year?
No feedback means no interaction with those that use your product, no interaction means no improvement, no improvement will soon put your business in the same category as Western Union, for a century a great company to send money via telegraph but who uses them any more? Most now send money via PayPal or Amex.
I`ve been in some interesting situations lately and I`d really like some advice from the nation.
Read Fabled Service by Betsy Sanders.
“An outstanding account of how service should be delivered. Fabled Service should be required reading for all who deliver service to the public” David Glass, President and CEO, Wal*Mart