The study found people who complain can often be transformed into vocal advocates for the brand if the complaint is managed well.
Today's report 'Analysing Customer Complaining' has been published by Kingston Business School and is written by Robert East, professor of consumer behaviour.
The report says that it makes financial sense for companies to encourage criticism from customers and review evidence on complaining.
It follows a report published last month by LexisNexis, showing that social networks such as Twitter are making people more likely to air grievances about a company. This is backed up by experiences of the members of the Institute of Customer Service, which is behind the Kingston Business School report.
Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, said: "The rise of social network sites as a forum for customer complaints could be viewed as a threat to organisations, but also as an opportunity for them to address consumer complaints head on.
"The majority of consumers are more likely to air their grievances without even consulting the company concerned, so organisations need to respond proactively online and see this as another communication channel."