CUSTOMER LOYALTY: Go Ahead…Encourage Your Residents To Complain!


Most people don’t like confrontation and most times don’t bother complaining when they think nothing will come of it. There are also those who assume they’ll end up feeling angrier or more annoyed because their negative customer feedback was ignored or dismissed as unimportant.

Research shows that customers who complain and are satisfied with how their complaint is handled are actually more loyal than customers who had no problem at all. And if getting complaints and handling them well is important to building resident loyalty, it also stands to reason that handling complaints poorly will have a negative impact on resident loyalty.

Resident complaints and feedback are gifts — are you ignoring those who can best help you improve your business?


That’s right. Encourage your residents to complain and give them multiple channels to do it in.  Let’s face it, as we have repeatedly heard residents are talking about you whether you listen or not, so you may as well reap the benefit. If a resident doesn’t complain when he has a problem, he simply isn’t invested enough to put effort into fixing it. He would rather put the issue aside and simply move down the road. If he isn’t interested in fixing the problem, he certainly isn’t interested in recommending your product and community to others. A friend of mine made the following post on her Facebook page this week:

In October I bought a Cuisinart Coffee Pot with a carafe that was supposed to keep my coffee hot. Not only was the coffee not hot, it never worked right. It sat on my shelf for months until a friend of mine encouraged me to call Bed Bath and Beyond where I bought the item. She told me that she had a good experience there and that they might take it back. After putting it off a little longer I finally called BBB and they said bring in the pot and we’ll exchange it…no problem. I told them I used a gift card and didn’t have my receipt…still no problem.  I told them that I might want to choose a different brand…still no problem. I bought a new Cuisinart one cup at a time coffee pot…hot, hot coffee… LOVE IT! I LOVE BBB!!! I should have done this a long time ago!

She held on to a broken product for over 9 months. She avoided contacting the store until a friend encouraged her to call based on a good experience she had with BB&B.  When she finally contacted the store their response was, “no problem”. How did her Facebook friends respond?

  • I love BB&B, too, they also take expired coupons, so save them all, that’s the “Beyond” part.
  • I don’t go there often but, have always received excellent customer service and used expired coupons.
  •  Anybody who stands behind that Chinese crap they sell gets my vote. (this one was my favorite)

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, social media! In just a matter of a few minutes my friend’s problem was solved, she recommended their business and they gained at least two new customers.

This experience could have easily gone in the opposite direction. When customers know they can complain or return anything at any time and not be questioned, they feel confident and empowered. It’s much better to hear negative customer feedback than to not hear about your customers’ complaints.


Type the words “bad customer service” into YouTube and you will see many examples of what happens when customer feedback is silenced or ignored. My favorite one is a guy from Florida who was on hold with Best Buy for over an hour. He actually got into his car, drove an hour to the store while on hold, handed the phone to a customer service representative and asked her where the person was that was holding his call. Ouch! Unlike this guy, most unhappy customers never say a word; they just take their business elsewhere. Then there is the website  It is a consumer product review site where you can review and share opinions on products and customer service.  I am not making this stuff up. These are the customers who had a problem and were ignored or silenced. It really bothered me that every few minutes the screen refreshed and a new complaint appeared.  It must be all those years I spent in a management position. Here is one that popped up while I was on the page.


We are trying to refinance our home with Chase. We have excellent credit and are taking money out of our home to purchase a Condo for my oldest of 4 to live in for college! We were originally told it would take 30 days, then 30-45 days, then 45-60 days and now maybe 90 days. 3 different times we were asked for documents and 3 times we have been sent to underwriting. We were approved day 1 but still do not have a closing date. No one at Chase wants to help or really cares. They are busy, they are bottle necked and here is the best – one Chase supervisor informed me that they are busy saving the nation’s economy and that takes time!

[I bet I know where she could lease an apartment instead.]

Handling negative customer feedback well increases resident loyalty. Those who complain to you are giving you another chance—an opportunity to reply, respond, and win back their loyalty. Are you making it easy for residents to complain or are you making it easy for non-complaining residents to walk away and then complain about you to their friends, co-workers, and family members?

What is your opinion? Do you have a story to share? I would love to hear your thoughts!

-Maria Lawson

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