Complaint Dept: Customer Problems at Record High

Some businesses still operate under the philosophy 'the customer is always right.' That may or may not be true, but these days the customer is more likely to be angry. The annual National Customer Rage Survey, conducted by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC), finds the level of customer satisfaction has reached an all-time low in the U.S. "Back in 1976 when the original study was done, 32 percent of Americans reported having a product or service problem within the last that number is up to 74 percent," says Scott Broetzmann, president of CCMC.

The sharp increase in customer complaints over the last 47 years isn't necessarily surprising, considering the mass advancements in technology and products we all now rely on. "Today, if your Internet goes down in your house, I'm sure you're just like me---the entire world falls apart," says Broetzmann. "You can't bank, you can't buy, you can't watch anything."

Not only has consumer technology grown exponentially since 1976, but most customer service is now dominated by technology, with automation or artificial intelligence. A study last year found most Americans would be willing to pay more if it meant better customer service.

The Customer Rage Survey also examines how people handle their customer service complaints. For a growing number, the answer is not well. About one-in-ten customers say they've sought revenge on a company, either through harassment, pestering, or public shaming online or on social media. That number is triple from three years ago. Nearly half of those who say they've complained directly to a company have raised their voice. But the study also shows revenge or rage doesn't yield the best results. Broetzmann notes that most customers who sought revenge on a company later regretted their actions or were exhausted by the whole process. "What we learned is revenge is a very empty pursuit," he tells KTRH. "It might make you feel real good for a moment, but after the fact it's going to leave you worn out, tired and somewhat miserable."

While we all feel rage at times toward a company or service that has failed us, Broetzmann recommends a more constructive approach to lodging your complaint. "First, perseverance---you've got to be in it for the long haul," he says. "Number two, be matter how difficult it the saying goes, you get more flies with honey, and number three, be clear about what you want."

Photo: Digital Vision

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