Top 10 Customer Complaints of 2012: #10 Too Noisy

Just two weeks into 2013, we have already analyzed the customer feedbacks received by over 6000 businesses in 2012 and found some interesting trends. Turns out that when given the opportunity, customers are not just vocal about what they like, but also what they dislike. If you’re a business owner looking to improve and stay ahead of the curve, you know that gripes and grievances are worth listening to!
One of the great advantages of the OwnerListens platform is that we get to see an aggregate picture of common mistakes. We can use this data to point out what businesses owners should be be most attentive to.
That’s exactly how we determined the Top 10 Customer Complaints. By combing through a sample of 2500 feedbacks in our system and classifying each according to 40 separate categories, we ascertained the most frequent complaints.
Since over 90% of our feedbacks in 2012 were to restaurants, the Top 10 are naturally focused on eating establishments. However, there are plenty of valuable insights to learn from if you are an owner/manager of any business.
First up on our countdown:

#10: Too Noisy


Unless they are at a concert hall or dance club, customers can be very sensitive to too much noise. Check out some common complaints:
  • Couldn’t have a conversation with the rest of my party.
  • It was too loud to hear my server and I felt like I had to scream at him.
  • I can hear the conversation of the party next to me.
  • The music is so loud it hurts my ears or gives me a headache.
  • Your equipment is very noisy.
It’s difficult to achieve the exact decibel level for your business for two main reasons:
  • Acoustics are hard to control. It’s difficult to change your business’s space in a way that gives you full control of noise level.
  • Every customer is different and it’s hard to know the optimal noise level for each of your customers.
So what can you do?
Be aware of the noise level in your establishment. You should have a rough idea of how loud your business is and whether it’s at a level that could make customers uncomfortable. There are apps available to help you measure this:
Physical Sound Level Meters on (more precise)
Make some quick arrangement changes. Common causes of loud noises are crowded seating arrangements (people often raise their voice to be heard over the next table), high ceilings, and noisy equipment. See if you can make the place less crowded by potentially removing access furniture or even an entire table altogether. While it might cost you a table, this could improve your ambiance such that more customers come back. Test it for a month or two and see.
Inspect your equipment and assess whether it’s making a lot of noise when in use. Investigate whether there are quieter settings or other options on the market. Using OwnerListens, one customer sent a valuable suggestion to a popular salad bar with an open kitchen recommending they switch from metal to wooden bowels for mixing the salads. A small investment that led to a big improvement.
Ask a professional. There are specialized noise consultants out there who will help you with tools and techniques to reduce noises. Sometimes it’s as simple a moving some of your noisier equipment to a different location. Sometimes, more work and resources are required such as changes to the floor/ceiling.
Stay Tuned! In a few weeks, we’ll have an expert acoustics engineer write a guest blog post about noise reduction strategies.
Tell us about your experience:
Consumers – have suggestion for how your favorite local businesses can reduce noise? Tell the owner with the OwnerListens app and we will make sure the owner receives your message!
Business Owners – Have a technique or solution for reducing unwanted noise to share with fellow business owners? Tell us here in the comments!

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