Does anyone have any statistics or considered estimation on the proportion of users that contact a web site to inform/complain that an on-line process that they attempted failed?

Further, does it vary with the kind of contact required? Eg

  • on-line feedback form
  • email
  • telephone (local call)
  • in-browser instant chat

The specific scenario I have in mind is an eBay-like site where the head office receive about 5 telephone calls per month from users complaining that they had problems placing an advertisement.

Just how large could the problem be?

My guess is that for every 1 complaint there would be 10-100 unhappy users that didn't bother complaining, maybe more.

Does anyone know of typical ratios, even for non IT related activities?

I acknowledge that actual figures will vary greatly with the type of application, demographic of user and their expectations and how important the process is to them... and many other factors. I'm just looking for "ball park" figures.

  • 1
    I think the basic 'is it easy' rule applies: if you can click 'complain' on screen and fill out a form, more people will do it. If you have to find a phone number and listen to recorded messages about pressing different numbers then less people will bother.
    – PhillipW
    Jan 5, 2015 at 20:45

3 Answers 3


In 1999 it was 1 in every 26 customers according to the article: http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/not-many-complaints-but-still-losing-customers/

In my opinion a "typical" proportion of people who complain cannot be measured. It will depend on many factors, such as the audience's demographics, type of an application (crucial vs nice-to-have), etc.

Another important contact point with the complaints is nowadays social media, especially when it comes to mainstream applications and services: http://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-keep-client-rants-from-going-viral/


In my experience, depending on the type of application/service and market (enterprise will be very different, of course), typically 5-10% email, call, tweet, or reach out in some other way, and generally 5%. Though depends on the problem of course.

Right now if we have a site outage I know that maybe 1% of customers will even notice for 5 minutes of downtime, but that it'll almost undoubtedly stop a sales call or two. So the severity matters as well, though if you know your audience, you'll get a good feel for how many complaints you'll get about anything wrong with the product.


Hard to tell. I'd go with 5-10% as well, given that the user has alternatives. So if a user tries to order a harddisk from an online-retailer and it fails, he probably doesn't complain but orders it from another site. If the user has no other option then he will probably complain or just figure it's way around.

So for your site: If you have 10'000 people placing ads every month, those 5 calls could probably be "ignored". But if those 5 calls make up 50% of your ad volume, their voice should probably be heard - in detail. Trust your gut.

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