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Level of enraged customers seeking revenge has tripled since 2020

360 Magazine 
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Level of enraged customers seeking revenge has tripled since 2020

Problems with products and services have 63 per cent of Americans feeling rage, and they’re increasingly seeking opportunities to name and shame the brands involved, according to data released in the 10th annual National Customer Rage Survey.

Conducted by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC), the survey fielded responses from 1,000 Americans. The study is produced in collaboration with the Center for Services Leadership, a research center within the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

The rage customers felt manifested itself in myriad ways, including the 43 per cent who said they raised their voice with a brand. Social media has risen as a channel for conveying displeasure from five per cent 10 years ago to half of those surveyed today. Forty three per cent said they complained publicly about their most serious negative experience on social media.

Sources of rage included problems that wasted customers’ time, which was cited by 56 per cent, as well as 43 per cent who said they lost money due to a product or service problem. More than a third said their poor experience led to emotional distress.

The survey also delved into acts of “uncivility,” which includes rude, discourteous and even violent behavior. Seventeen per cent of those surveyed admitted they had acted uncivilly over the past 12 months.

“This first foray into customer uncivility reveals that unseemly customer behavior tied to clashes in values between businesses and their customers may be the new normal, as nearly one of every two Americans encountered two or more acts of customer uncivility in the past year,” the report’s authors wrote.

360 Magazine Insight

There is something admirable — even noble — about the researchers’ decision to correlate date around customer rage and uncivility. It’s something that probably wouldn’t be explored by a traditional customer experience (CX) vendor, and yet it’s an important consideration.

While many CX professionals are trying to reduce wait times in contact centers and train their team to resolve problems to improve customer satisfaction, uncivility’s roots likely lie outside the experience they’re delivering.

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According to the researchers, for example, uncivility stems from “socio-political conflicts between customers and businesses, such as differences of opinion about politics, sexuality, culture, and faith.” These lie outside a brand’s control, but they obviously influence the mindset customers bring with them into an experience.

Fortunately, the survey found many Americans willing to look beyond their own rage to the implications of uncivility. A quarter of respondents said they found threats, intimidation, foul language and lying to be socially unacceptable. This should help brands develop policies that empower employees to refuse service or protect themselves, rather than subject themselves to abuse in the name of CX.

It would be helpful if the researchers could provide some analysis or recommendations on how brands could effectively contend with customer rage. This will become increasingly complex as more experiences happen at least partly or entirely through digital channels. In fact, it would be worth studying whether the latter trend affects levels of rage, as well as factors such as ongoing supply chain disruption.

In the meantime, those responsible for CX should not expect the levels of rage their team experiences to diminish anytime soon — even if the data suggests there are a lot of people who need to calm down.

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