Customers Rage

Discussion
Dec 29, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


A study conducted by the Customer Care Alliance shows what many already know: customer service stinks.


For many, dealing with customer service issues means taking away from their limited leisure time. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said they had to take time away from leisure activities to deal with a customer service issue. Nearly one in four (24 percent) took time from their work to try and fix a problem with a product, service or billing mistake.


Mickey Donahue told CBS News that its “infuriating” to have to continually spend personal time to fix someone else’s mistake.


“Road rage, move over,” she said. “It’s all customer rage now.”


According to Scott Broetzmann of Customer Care Alliance, Ms. Donahue is not alone in this response. The group’s research found 70 percent of consumers felt “rage” when faced with a customer service issue.


Many companies say consumers are being unreasonable, said Mr. Broetzmann, but most people with a complaint are looking for “simple remedies, explanations, reassurances, apologies, and thanks for their business.”


Most consumers don’t see much difference in the type of customer service they receive. According to the study, 44 percent said customer service is “neither better or worse” than it was last year. Twenty-three percent said it was “better or considerably better” while 33 percent said it was “worse or considerably worse.”


Moderator’s Comment: Are customers becoming more agitated when faced with a perceived customer service error than in the past? Are store workers prepared
to deal with the “rage” they may face from consumers?


While out to eat about a month ago, a gentleman moved to the center of the restaurant and yelled very loudly, “I’ve been waiting 45 minutes to get my takeout
order called in nearly two hours ago. These people keep telling me it’s going to be 10 more minutes. They’re liars and I will never come back here again.”


He certainly got everyone’s attention.


We went back to eating. The white pizza was very good.
George Anderson – Moderator

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16 Comments on "Customers Rage"


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Murray Raphel
Guest
Murray Raphel
15 years 1 month ago

RE: Customer Service

I like the quote from psychologist Ernst Dichter: “When you go to a restaurant you’re hungrier for recognition than you are for food.”

Doug Fleener
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
I think what is fueling this “customer rage” is that, not only do consumers have to use their valuable time to fix problems, but the businesses they are dealing with don’t seem to care. Customers are upset because they don’t hear two very important words, “I’m sorry.” My own experiences in the fall reminded me that often the only difference between an okay experience and a really good experience is the ability of the staff to see things from the customer’s perspective. I recently stayed at an Embassy Suites in California and, while the room easily met my expectations, the staff, for the most part, didn’t. They all seemed very intent on doing their jobs but showed little or no awareness of my experience of their hotel. For example, each day I had to call down and get a new password for the free internet. No problem. For three days it worked fine. On day four it didn’t. I tried the password I’d been given over and over with no luck. When I called down… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Perhaps customer service at most businesses really has never been very good to begin with. But with changing times, companies have just come up with different ways to irritate customers. Nobody likes having to run through a maze of point and clicks on web sites and then get an emailed canned response. The worst is navigating through a long and detailed complicated phone menu, only to be told the wait will be 45 minutes to talk to someone from India reading random responses off of cue cards. Dealing with store employees in person is entirely different. This puts the customer in more control because the customer can exercise social engineering skills to help persuade the employee to respond favorably.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

It helps to measure customer service using secret shoppers. It also helps to measure it by talking with customers leaving the store. Some will tell you what they could not find, some will tell you about service issues, and some will tell you they were just browsing. Supermarkets and liquor stores have very few no-purchase exits, but many specialty stores (clothing, books, etc.) sell only half their entrants, or less.

Would there be a great market for a Shopper Whistle, which would be a relabeled sports whistle? Shoppers could wear it around their necks, and blow it loudly when needing assistance in poorly staffed locations.

Kai Clarke
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
Customer service is the key to success at retail. All retailers are starting to recognize this from the moment you enter their store (like the greeters at Wal-Mart) until the time you leave. If it is a restaurant, service provider or retailer, the end concern is what type of customer service did the user receive. This becomes even more important as retailers focus on segmenting their markets to differentiate their brands. This is why short hold times and short checkout lines are some of the initial key areas of customer service. Add to this the increased use of “secret shoppers” to discover retailing weaknesses (before your competitors do), and you have an industry which is just learning that a happy customer means return sales, where an unhappy one translates into many lost sales (since they are certain to tell others about their poor experience). Sam Walton knew this in the early 60’s, and retailers are still learning this valuable lesson. Success in retail is no longer about marketing to the 4Ps, but now we have… Read more »
Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 1 month ago

While I really don’t see any huge swings in trends in customer service – we’ve all been talking and complaining about it for years – the above-referenced study is worth registering for and dissecting. There is a ton of information and recommendations as well. If companies started calculating the amount of time they spend arguing with customers over what are often fairly minor complaints, they might find it easier and less costly to just resolve many of these problems in customers’ favor. They’d gain much in goodwill, and maybe save time to boot. And, of course, they could keep track of “demon customers” and apply different strategies to them.

George Whalin
Guest
George Whalin
15 years 1 month ago
In the early 1980s, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman’s book, ‘In Search of Excellence,’ detailed a number of companies that placed a great priority on customer service while providing customers with a pleasantly memorable experience. I don’t know if this was the first book on customer service, but providing great customer service was a key part of the message in this important book. ‘In Search of Excellence’ has been followed by dozens and dozens of books extolling the value and importance of great customer service. Is customer service in stores any better today than it was in the early 1980s after all of the books have been written and all of the speeches and seminars have been conducted? Some retailers have realized the importance and value of every customer. Unfortunately, far too many retailers have simply given lip service to the idea of providing good customer service. The experience in their stores directly reflects what they really believe. The reality is very simple. There are a good many retailers who have been able to create… Read more »
John Lingnofski
Guest
John Lingnofski
15 years 1 month ago

I believe customer service is becoming poorer because many companies have worked so hard to create protocols for handling consumer complaints. Although the goal is to produce consistent quality, the result is that the employee is left with no authority and no flexibility to actually solve the consumer’s problem.

Companies that trust their employees to deal with specific consumer complaints on a case-by-case basis have happier employees and more loyal customers.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 1 month ago

Why do I get the feeling that with some companies their attitude about customer service after the sale is, “Oh, I didn’t know that we would be expected to deal with that issue?” And as more and more people have grown not being used to old-fashioned customer service, it seems like they just accept it and don’t question it.

One thing that has gotten a lot better in the last year is the dramatic reduction in the annoying phone calls due to the do not call list. From my perspective, it looks like our politicians finally got one right for a change.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 1 month ago

Customer service is getting worse. Talked to anyone in India lately? Thankfully, this oursourcing has not impacted the grocery industry at the retail level. However, I do expect some MBA to come up with a way to have a retail customer go to a service phone at a service counter in Wal-Mart or where ever and enter preliminary information before we can actually see a service person.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

On the other hand, maybe it’s just one big fat conspiracy. If enough customers get sufficiently fed up with the lack of help they get maybe they’ll stop complaining and retailers can just go about their business without having to worry whether the *** customers are happy or not. ORRRRR better still, unhappy customers will take their custom elsewhere and retailers will get the “you’d better improve or else” message thataway.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 1 month ago
The first step is REACHING customer service. Many services and, of course, internet businesses, offer no easy way to reach them with customer concerns. Definitely no phone number, and most times an email entry area (no email address) that is carefully hidden in some obscure corner of the website. They keep pushing you back to the FAQ. When and if you finally negotiate a circuitous path to an email inquiry form for your question, any reply you receive will not allow you to reply to the “From” address. If you want to ask a follow-up question, you must remember how you reached their email inquiry form the first time, remind them of your issue, and then ask the question. But I now understand some of their reasons. We try to make Customer Care a centerpiece of one of our internet sites that sells a fairly involved product. But the questions we get via phone and email are often just plain weird. “I’m doing a report on products of your kind and I’d like to know… Read more »
Tony Orlando
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

As a business owner, I try to resolve customer service issues right away. For the most part, we do a real good job. However, some customers expect miracles, and no one can satisfy them. I’ve never believed that the customer is always right, and in a world of “me first,” you have to evaluate if it’s worth putting up with unruly customers for the sake of making a sale. Constant returns from the same individual for ridiculous reasons, or someone using W.I.C. coupons, and trying to return the items back for cash, is a no win for the stores.

Never lose your cool, and most issues can be solved easily.
All of us pretty much hate utilities, and big corporations. As their service is horrendous, but a good independent can do well with common sense, and a little kindness. Doctors’ offices can really use some seminars on proper scheduling of patients, so we don’t have to wait 2 hours to see our doctors. Happy New Year to all.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 1 month ago
A colleague of mine likes to tell the tale of the man he met who, when trying to book a tee time at an Asian resort in person, was told they only book tee times over the phone. He insisted since he was standing right there they could do it. They refused. So, still standing 2 feet from the receptionist and looking right at her, he called her on his cell phone and successfully booked a tee time. UPS won’t credit a missed overnight shipment two days after it was shipped even when they agree it won’t arrive until the next day (3 days) until it actually arrives because they can’t PROVE it didn’t arrive in time until it’s delivered, forcing customers (me) to call AGAIN for the credit. Customer service is worse. People are not concerned with how they affect their consumers. One day I will point out to the sales clerk who makes me step aside so they can walk past me down a store aisle that they are meant to defer to… Read more »
Irma Nykolyn
Guest
Irma Nykolyn
15 years 1 month ago
Retailers are focusing on the wrong issues. Lord & Taylor, in a misguided attempt to stop the drain of consumer dollars, has decided to go after customers that return items. However, in a recent incident at the Walt Whitman store in Huntington, NY , I was appalled at their lack of customer service. I attempted to exchange a sweater that I had purchased only three days before with a receipt. I was told that it was last year’s sweater and that I could only get back $9.99. I made a fuss since I had the receipt. Then I was told that I must have changed the tags because the size on it was incorrect. I didn’t notice any of this when I made the purchase. Neither did the salesperson at that time. She sold me “last year’s sweater” at this year’s price, but I was the only one embarrassed at the counter. After asking for the highest level manager available, Georgia showed up and finally agreed to make the exchange. Customers everywhere – beware. Check… Read more »
Herbert Seigler
Guest
Herbert Seigler
15 years 1 month ago

In my lifetime, I have seen customer service deteriorate from good to poor to non-existent.

My wife sums it up nicely when she sees an ad on TV, or a CEO touting their wonderful commitment to customers & employees: “If they have to tell you, it isn’t so!”

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