Characterizing Consumer Suggestion Sharing: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives


  • Thomas Burnham University of Nevada Reno


Firms can learn valuable customer knowledge by engaging with customers who share their suggestion ideas. Yet consumer suggestion sharing has been minimally studied and remains poorly distinguished from complaint behavior. This research reviews suggestion-sharing related literature, theoretically distinguishes suggestion sharing behavior from complaint behavior and offers an exploratory empirical characterization of direct-to-firm consumer suggestion sharing. The empirical findings draw on seven surveys employing three different elicitation techniques – critical incident, direct reporting, and scenario response. Results indicate that approximately 70% of consumers share suggestions with firms each year and that the majority are unsolicited and are shared face to face in services contexts, highlighting the need for companies to establish frontline service processes both to capture and communicate shared insights and to better engage with customers seeking to help them. Further, consumers conceive of more than twice as many suggestion ideas as they share, highlighting the potential for companies to garner substantially more improvement ideas and feedback, and to develop stronger customer relationships, by fostering increased sharing of suggestion ideas.



2021-02-24 — Updated on 2021-12-22