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Thoughts From Vacation – Some Customers Will Never be Happy

Another random thought I had on vacation back in November. Watching our fellow cruise passengers on group excursions or at meals was an interesting experience. Most, like us, were simply excited to have some time away and saw the whole thing as a big adventure, but there were a few who simply seemed to find something to complain about at every turn. Some of the time it was something that one of the crew could fix for them, but they typically only complained to themselves instead of asking for help or refused offers to make it better, and sometimes they would complain to the staff and expect them to fix things that were well beyond their control.


Sure it’d be great if every time you took a trip to photograph nature the
weather cooperated, but sometimes you have to make do, and
complaining about it won’t make the sun shine

As I pondered the absurdity of some of the complaints, I realized that there are simply some people who will always find something to complain about. Trying to respond to these people is not the same as responding to normal feedback from customers. In service industries, like training, we solicit feedback from our customers after every class in the form of surveys. Unfortunately, most customers don’t bother to fill out the surveys. Those who do are usually highly motivated, either because they had a great experience, or a lousy one, and the ones who had a lousy one are always more motivated than those who had great ones. That’s the reality of that feedback.

Some of the feedback is quite valuable. If you’re doing something right, it’s good to have that confirmed. If you’re missing something, it’s great to be able to hear that and adjust accordingly. But sometimes, you get feedback that just doesn’t make sense. On a ship, you get complaints about the weather, or local rules and customs. It might make for some things to think about, but there’s not much you can do to satisfy those customers. Other feedback falls more under the description of complaining for the sake of complaining. These customers don’t want you to fix it, they are unhappy about something, and want to voice that unhappiness. Any attempt to actually help them is usually met with resistance. Those of you who’ve ever worked a help desk know the type, they call and yell and scream, then when you suggest they simply try something else that might work better, they hang up or yell some more. Spend too much time trying to fix the complaints of this group, and you wind up chasing your tail. They’ll find something else to complain about, and the customers who you really should care about, wind up getting less and less of your attention.

That’s no way to run a business. Instead of trying to fix every complaint, spend more time figuring out how to best serve the majority of your customers, and know that some will complain anyway.

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