A lot of people have been contacting me about complaints made about their innovations. Now to be clear, I’m not referring to things like Google reviews although these may or may not be relevant. I am thinking of complaints made directly to the company about the disappointment with or failure of innovations during use. Recently, I had one innovator call me after about a dozen complaints were received. This entrepreneur was quite distraught and confided in me this was keeping him up at night.

When it comes to complaints, these are things I look at:

1. The seriousness of the complaints. In my world of regulated products, these usually pertain to adverse reactions, issues of health and safety etc.

2. The percent of complaints to units sold.

3. Trends. Are complaints going up, down, sideways?

In the case of my recent sleepless entrepreneur, none of the complaints was particularly serious. In terms of the absolute number, a dozen seemed like a catastrophe. But it turns out that there were over half a million units sold; the complaint rate was about 0.002%, miniscule. In terms of trends, it was a predictable steady growth of complaints as the business expanded. Time for a good night’s sleep!

The other advice I give to entrepreneurs is if you are not getting complaints or at least some type of feedback, I would be concerned. Unless you are an absolute genius, your product will launch with further optimization needed. All within reason of course. So I say, embrace your complaints. Master dealing with them. And use them as learning for your next generation innovation.

Our YouTube Channel showcases our Lectures on Innovation Series featuring our “Complaints” video, which continues this article in more depth. Watch it here.

For more information, please contact Focal Point Research Inc. We are leading North American Regulatory and New Product Consultants for Medical DevicesNatural Health ProductsOTC DrugsCosmetics, and other consumer products regulated by Health Canada and the U.S. FDA .

Rob Fichtner, October, 2019