Anger Management Loses Its Grip in America's Customer Service Lines

Tuesday, 10 Dec 2013 03:49 PM

By John Morgan

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A "customer rage" survey shows the number of Americans who are batty over poor customer service they receive from businesses has been taking an ugly leap forward.

Despite advances in technology and huge expenditures by corporate America, consumers are angrier than ever about how they are treated, according to a study cited by NBC News.

The national survey by Arizona State University's W.P Carey School of Business found the number of households saying they were very or extremely upset about companies’ response when they complained escalated from 60 percent to 68 percent in only two years, since 2011.

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And what do they do when they encounter sub-standard customer service?

Yelling increased from 25 percent to 36 percent in such situations, and cursing at the company representative jumped from 7 percent to 13 percent.

Other findings from the “Customer Rage Survey”: An estimated 56 percent said they received no solution for their trouble, up 9 percentage points from 2011. The anger-provoking products most often cited were cable or satellite TV. And 98 percent of customer service outrage stemmed from dealings with private companies, not with government agencies.

“Given the fact that most complainants are not satisfied, corporate America is spending billions of dollars on customer care programs that are actually losing them customers,” said Mary Joe Bitner, a professor and executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State.

The survey blames poor execution at the company level for the problems. Many companies try to route customers to the Internet to resolve issues, but it is much more difficult to provide good customer service online than to let the customer talk to a live person.

The study concludes that when companies addressed customer problems and also issued an apology, customer satisfaction doubled.

The customer service gulf may be getting attention in some quarters. Speaking this week at a media conference, incoming Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus repeatedly stressed the company's intention to tackle its customer service reputation.

Marcus claimed customer service will be moved front and center on his watch, and that "the best customer service is when the customers don’t need to contact us at all for service."

CMS Newswire, a website that focuses on digital customer service issues, reported that 37 percent of those surveyed by Aspect Software, a provider of call center management solutions, described “eating fruitcake from last year as better than dealing with customer care during the holidays.”

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