Press 1 for more trouble: Americans are fed up with customer service

A recent survey shows that Americans are more dissatisfied with customer service than ever before. The poor guy above has been on hold for 24 months (we’re assuming – it’s a stock photo).

Who are you? The thousands of Americans expressing dissatisfaction with customer service. You can find them on basically every Yelp page out there.

  • Many industries have been upended by the pandemic, and it turns out that customer service and hospitality overall have taken a backseat in the eyes of many Americans.
  • According to the 10th edition of the National Customer Rage Survey, which measures satisfaction and rudeness, 74% of Americans say they have had a problem with a product or service in the past year. The frequency of problems has more than doubled since 1976.
  • And on the other hand, consumers are described as increasingly vocal – literally. The survey found that 43% of customers yelled or raised their voice to express displeasure about their most serious issue, up from 35% in 2015.
  • If you’ve spent any time on the angry side of customer freak TikTok, you’ve probably watched enough to know that things feel… bad.
  • The survey is conducted by Customer Care Measurement and Consultancy in partnership with the Center for Services Leadership/WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
  • Carol Yepes/Getty Images


    Getty Images

    Turn the frown upside down.

    What’s the big deal? Well, there are many unfortunate people out there.

  • There are a number of reasons why customer service feels worse, such as: B. A shortage of labor in some industries, the diffusion of technology as part of the process, and a lack of incentives for firms without competition. (Have you ever tried to contact your ISP because of anything?)
  • Amas Tenumah has written a book on customer service and cites rising customer expectations that aren’t being met as a big part of the problem.
  • “Today we live in a society where expectations of brands are rising. Just think of the commercials. They promise you the world… and then the objective reality arrives. And you try to achieve customer service. And You’re being met with a bot. You’re being met with waiting times…this really is the abyss. That gap between expectations and objective reality just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
  • What are people saying?

    Tenumah is the author of Waiting for Service: An insider’s account of why customer service is broken and tips to avoid poor service. He’s also the founder of a consulting firm and spoke to NPR about what everyone seems unhappy with.

    On how the role of technology often frustrates more than it enhances:

    I’m telling you, Americans are incredibly kind when they start out. On a scale of 1 to 10, most people start at a nine or nine and a half.

    But then you start that interaction and you encounter an automated system — press one, press two — or machine that you want to communicate with. They can’t understand you, or you encounter a chatbot on the site and then you get over it and then give them your information.

    And then you finally come to a human and the human asks you to repeat your information. Well, your grace began at nine. You were like a four at that point, and then god forbid they move you.

    By the time you get transferred, having dealt with the machine and repeating your information, you are at zero, and many people are in the minus. This is where the insults and anger on the part of the customer really pile up.

    How worker empowerment makes a better experience for everyone:

    It’s still a person-to-person business. And what I say to customers, first and foremost, is that your first customers are your service reps.

    Make sure they have the right tools, they’re rewarded appropriately, and your policies and procedures don’t put them in the middle between you and the customer.

    So I encourage these organizations to empower this professional. You trained them. They invested in them so that the customer could easily fulfill a reasonable request and be a hero. And the customer does not have to ask for a manager and escalate the calls and the emails are transferred to power.

    Want to hear more from Tenumah? Listen to the NPR interview by clicking or tapping the play button above.

    so what now?

  • Despite the rise of AI chatbots and automated customer service systems, Tenumah says customer service is a business that’s extremely difficult to calculate with a formula or algorithm. Improving this system starts with valuing workers.
  • “I usually say customer service is harder than rocket science. And the reason it’s harder is because there are formulas that can calculate them [to] putting a rocket on the moon, there is no formula for calling two strangers on a phone call to solve a problem.”
  • Tenumah says we need to change the social contract and not consider these workers “low-skilled workers.” “These are complicated requests because if they were simple, a bot or machine could do it. And the faster we develop as an industry, the better off we’ll be,” he said.
  • Continue reading:

  • There were 100 recalls of children’s products last year – the most since 2013
  • The unexpected American shopping spree seems to have cooled off
  • Credit Card Nation: How We Goed From Record Savings To Record Debt In Just Two Years
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