Customer Experience News & Trends

Ha-ha! What humorous complaints actually do to business

“Tell us what you think.” Have your requests for feedback given wannabe comedians a license to thrill or kill business? New research has found how your Robin Williams-like customers, who write reviews, affect business.

Turns out, it’s no laughing matter.

Most humorous online reviews express dissatisfaction, not praise for a company, product or service, according to research published by the Marketing Science Institute. Many buyers who aren’t happy about an experience, situation, product or service want to laugh a little at the company’s expense — and potentially get others to join in the jabbing.

So what happens when a customer pens a humorous complaint for the company and others to see? Researchers found humorous complaints:

  • are admired
  • remembered by other readers longer
  • enjoyed, and
  • shared more than other complaints that don’t hit the funny bone.

Do we pay enough attention?

While comedic complainers get more attention from their peers, they get less attention from those who are actually looking to fix problems, the researchers said.

Why? Humor tends to blunt anyone’s motivation to solve the issue. When it comes down to it, service and sales pros typically make serious complaints a higher priority.

Treat them all the same

So humorous complaints could be the worst thing for business. More people read them — and could be turned off from a company by them. Yet, they receive the least amount of attention from the companies themselves, which, in turn, could make the complaints turn nasty — and more harmful.

Bottom line: Humorous complaints will continue to be posted wherever you ask for feedback, and they need the same quick, thorough attention as any other.

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