We may dread receiving negative customer feedback. But at least it’s actionable.

When customers go radio silent on you, on the other hand, it’s virtually impossible to get a read on how they feel about your brand.

Let’s take a look at situations where a lack of feedback may suggest bigger underlying issues. More importantly, we’ll check in on what your customer success team can do about it.

Unhappy customers rarely speak up

You may have heard the often-repeated statistic that only 1 out of 25 unhappy customers complain about their experience. That means 96% of unsatisfied users don’t even make a peep!

Worse, 91% of unhappy customers stop doing business with a brand after that bad experience.

At the same time, they’ll tell as many as 15 people all about it — just not you. Looking for how your company got a bad reputation? May want to start here.

This is why we can’t assume detractors will always point out customer pain points. It’s also why you shouldn’t ignore quiet passives or assume that NPS surveys are the end all be all.

Lack of engagement spells big trouble for customer relationships

Across the board, customer success professionals are strapped for time: On average, we spend only about 28% of the workday speaking with customers. Given that time crunch, it’s not surprising that so many of us focus on putting out fires and responding to complaints. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, after all.

You might be tempted to put silent customers on the back burner while you deal with negative feedback, but you could be setting yourself up for trouble down the road.

Let’s consider two customers who run into the same problem: They can’t get into their account. One immediately contacts customer support to complain and figure out how to fix the issue. The other tries to sort the problem out themselves, but after several failed attempts, gives up.

Why doesn’t the second person reach out for help? There could be a lot of different reasons, but the one that should really worry customer success teams is that they just aren’t engaged enough to put in that effort. Sure, they may take some perfunctory steps to address the problem, but they apparently don’t care enough to pick up a phone or send an email.

If customers aren’t invested in your product and don’t reach out the moment something goes wrong, then that’s a big problem. How can you build lasting relationships with customers who are willing to bail at the first sign of trouble?

Draw out the silent majority for long-term success

Customer success professionals devote so much time helping people who give negative feedback, that they may be missing out on opportunities to strengthen relationships with customers who suffer in silence.

Of course, there are also plenty of people who are reasonably satisfied with your product who won’t say anything either. They may not be churn risks, but you’d be leaving money on the table if you don’t try to get these people more engaged.

Flipping passives into advocates is the mark of every great customer success team. First things first: You need to figure out who those people are. This shouldn’t be too difficult, assuming you’re already tracking every bit of feedback you receive in your customer success platform.

The key to pushing people into advocate territory is to help them experience their “aha moment” — the experience where everything clicks and the full extent of your product’s value comes into clear focus. This will take some legwork to dig into usage data, map out the customer journey and compare experiences across similar customer segments, but it’s worth it.

Once you have a handle on what those aha moments look like, you can create a playbook to build better relationships with your passive customers. And with every new brand advocate you bring to the fold, you steadily improve your long-term prospects. These customers are more likely to:

  • Spend more money with your brand.
  • Recommend your services to other people.
  • Post positive reviews on social media sites and online directories.

You’ll also see major improvements to the key metrics that companies use to assess their customer success teams: net promoter score, customer retention, customer satisfaction, customer lifetime value, etc. If that’s not reason enough to make silent customers a priority, what is?

The loudest customers will always demand your attention. Give your passive audience just as much support, though, and they’ll remember you for it.

Want to learn more about building lasting customer relationships? Download the Retention Stage Playbook.