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The unhappy 2%!

I was recently reading a post over on Seth Godin’s blog, where he talks about the 2% of people who will complain or disagree whenever you do anything that gets their attention. Now, I’m not sure that number is 2%, in my experience it’s a lot lower than that, but Seth’s point is correct.  Whenever you make any change, even a vast improvement, there will be people who complain and these people are usually noisier than the other 98%.

As a small business owner, it’s important not to make the mistake of allowing the noisy 2% to stop you making decisions and taking action. You see, as soon as you make that 2% happy, the changes you made to appease them, will often cause a different 2% of people to complain!

Even those well known brands, which you LOVE and tell all your friends about, will have people who vocally dislike those same things that you think are great.

By perfecting what you do, you may get that 2% down to 1%, but there will always be people who disagree with whatever it is you do.  If you introduce a new service and 2% of people tell you it’s stupid, but 98% love it, go with the 98%!  Even if that 2% is vocal, and it often is, listen to what they are saying, learn from it, but allow it to influence your decision making by just 2%.

As Jim Rohn used to say; “Don’t major on minor things!”

The bottom line: You can’t please everyone, every time, with everything.  Don’t allow the noisy 2% to stop you making progress.

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Jim,

    I Know why you think it’s lower than 2%. It’s because you live in uk and this 2% are in Germany :-).
    Every time you makesime change here in Germany, you get 2% of people that will agree without complaining :-)

  2. Jim – I can not thank you enough for this post. Thank you!!!

  3. In part I agree with you, but my own experience has taught me slightly differently, and in fact I wrote a blog post about it when I and another guy I know were critiquing the new Whitney museum web site.

    The problem usually starts with the volume of feedback you get, the smaller it is the more amplified perhaps the negative feedback can be.

    I have found int he past 50% of feedback will be negative, not 2%. yes some people are resistant to change and they will ultimately acquiesce.

    The professionalism comes in knowing when to recognize real complaints and not just whingers. You do yourself a disservice in mocking and ignoring all complainers, because often there are some who step up with real experience who know as well as you do, and you need to know when to realize that, and recognize what is good for you, not just our customers.

    • Vincent – For me it is not so much the numbers that matter. What matters is we need to remember there is no way we can make or keep everyone happy with what we do.

      Speaking from my own experience this last week or so, it is so true. We need to perhaps listen to the noisy ones. But, we need to stop and remember there is a method to our madness in what we are doing. For us, we have spent hours of planning and laying out what we are doing. And so far that plan has worked.

      Is any product or service perfect? No, and there never will be perfection. And that is where we go wrong. We spend too much time trying to make it perfect. The key is to learn from what might go wrong. Step back and see where we can make things better. And at the same time we need to stop, and remember perfection is completely out of reach.

      I also completely agree with you when you state we need to know when to recognize real complaints or issues and not just the whiners. And that is sometimes hard. Especially when we are caught up in trying to make it perfect for everyone.

      Usually in what we do, it is easier to recognize those who do have an issue or a problem. Those are the same people who are more then willing to help us help them. And those are the same people who step up to the plate and help others.

      Thanks Vincent for your input too. This is a topic I have been struggling with over the last couple of weeks.

    • Just 2 small points Vincent. I never said to ignore the complainers, as your comment suggests. I said to listen to them, learn and move on. Also, this post is about that tiny minority that you will never make happy – You’re talking about having 50% of people pissed-off, which is totally different scenario.

      Thanks for opening up the conversation and give my LOVE to Hoxton!

  4. Hi Jim,
    I’m new to your blog, glad I found it.
    You are so right about not listening to the 2%. Especially when it comes to word of mouth for your business. It only takes 1 person to start a bad rumor and a whole bunch more to get you back on top again, to undue what that 1 person did.
    Thank you for sharing!

  5. Agree and disagree, Jim.

    Yes, for sure, we need to keep level-headed and make sure we’re not wasting precious time on folks that will never be happy.

    On the flip side, sometimes the 98% are evangelists that can see no wrong in a product or service, and the 2% are the ones that are actually seeing the things that, were the company to implement, would make the other 98% happier.

    Fine line to walk at times, sir.

  6. Just because you think that all the ideas and improvements you are making are always great – everybody else thinks the same.

    Maybe 98% of people do not really care that much or can not be bothered to say anything and the 2% are the ones who just say as it is?

    If more the 5% people complain then there is something wrong.

    However I agree that there are people who just complain no matter what you do.

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