The Surprising Link Between Customer Complaints and Good Public Relations – Read This!

I was at a public relations conference over the weekend.

My head is still spinning from all of the information that I received and ideas that were shared. We heard from many speakers and participated in several breakouts. One particular breakout session, “Complaining is Good PR: Recovering from Crisis without Losing Customers,” was so interesting to me that I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on what we learned about turning unhappy customers into happy gain as it pertains to good public relations!

The session speaker, Dr. Steven Stein, president and CEO of SOSS PR Marketing Communications Consulting, introduced us to The Advocacy Group which he founded back in 2000. He explained how they have partnered with businesses across the U.S. and abroad to help them recover from a variety of situations ranging from a product recall, an angry client on social media, a false news story or even a disgruntled employee going public with stolen confidential information.

In doing so, The Advocacy Group has compiled some interesting data about unhappy customers.

According to their research, customer complaints are good for business!

Dr. Stein said the number one complaint today is not spam email but rather unsatisfactory service. In fact, he said most unhappy customers don’t complain at all … they just take their business elsewhere. He went on to reveal that only nine percent of consumers who have had a complaint resolved posted about it online while 77 percent of those with an unresolved issue comment on Facebook! Again, unhappy customers don’t complain, they just take their business elsewhere.

When it comes to the financial impact of unhappy customers, The Advocacy Group has determined that when a customer uses negative words online, businesses lose an average of 14 percent in sales. When unhappy customers use positive language instead, companies not only gain back lost revenue but also an additional nine percent in sales. As for Facebook alone, Dr. Stein said your business can gain or lose $186 for every one dollar you spend on social media!

To increase your odds of winning over disgruntled clients or employees who decide to post negative comments about your company on the web, he offers these tips:

·    Listen closely to what they are saying and try to understand their perspective.  

·    Apologize immediately and sincerely.

·    Act quickly by reaching out to resolve the issue if it is within your control or explaining why you can’t help them if it’s not.

·    If the complaint is published online, do more than simply ask for a removal. Apologize and explain what you will do to resolve it in the future.

Dr. Stein closed by sharing this statistic: for every one unhappy customer who complains on Facebook, there are 26 more that feel exactly the same way but don’t say anything at all!

So, while I am still learning about public relations from my classmates here at the University of South Dakota, I think that companies need to take away from this research that if you take care of your customer complaints the right way, the return will benefit you in more ways than one!

If you enjoyed this story, please feel free to like it and share with others. I’d also love for you to check out what I’m doing over at! Thanks for stopping by!


There needs to be a “Copy Right” link on here. The article explains nothing about how they conducted their research or any references that anyone could find any more information about the topic. It is not well written: / not enough content either. Article should be much longer because there is a lot of information that could be put into it.

1: This is not an article; this is an advertisement for your company and content marketing services. 2: I cannot find any reference to where you got your “data” from on your website or in this post. 3: You do not cite anything at all. If you want to add references, they need to be cited in the text itself using a citation list at the end of articles – one place per reference is standard practice.

Yes JW, this was meant to be an article/blog piece about my experience with The Advocacy Group and how they helped my company. I’m glad you found this to be informative! Thanks for stopping by!


Yes, you can find excellent articles by Googling. No, they are not all indexed so you have to be methodical in your search. Yes, Backlinks are important but the content of an article has more weight than backlinks do.