Membership

Not Feeling the Cheer: Customer Rage on Rise, New Survey Says

In a new Arizona State University study, more than half of all respondents said they have dealt with bad customer service—a number that's gone up over the years. What should a member-focused organization take from that? It might be better to ask for forgiveness than to ignore the scorned.

In a new Arizona State University study, more than half of all respondents said they have dealt with bad customer service—a number that’s gone up over the years. What should a member-focused organization take from that? It might be better to ask for forgiveness than to ignore the scorned.

So what’s bugging your members, anyway?

People are frustrated that there are too many automated response menus, there aren’t enough customer-care agents, they waste a lot of time dealing with the problem, and they have to contact the company an average of four times to get resolution.

According to a new study, it might be your customer service. A new study from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business found that half of all people surveyed have dealt with some sort of customer service problem. The aptly named 2013 Customer Rage Survey, completed with the help of Customer Care Measurement and Consulting (CCMC) and NOVO 1, found that, since 1976, consumers have grown more and more frustrated with companies and organizations. Some highlights from the study:

Phone still tops for venting: While the internet certainly makes it easier to complain about a bad customer service experience (note the rise of Yelp, and that a complaint on the business review site led to a lawsuit last year), it’s still not the most popular place to vent. The study found people were 11 times more likely to vent over the phone than online. Even so, complaints are on the rise in the social media space in particular, jumping from 19 percent to 35 percent between 2011 and 2013. And when they do vent, there’s a good chance that consumers might yell (36 percent of respondents) or curse (13 percent) when dealing with the worst problems.

A little apology goes a long way: While 56 percent of people who complained to a company said they got nothing in return, an apology might have made all the difference. When companies added that free remedy to the mix with any kind of monetary relief, customer satisfaction levels improved from 37 percent to 74 percent. Appeasing members in cases of bad customer service might be a good idea, either way—while a person who received a satisfactory solution only told 10 to 16 people about the issue, those who received a negative solution told about 28 people on average.

So why aren’t things getting better? Even though companies are putting more effort into their customer service approaches, customers are still frustrated. The problem, according to the study, may be in the execution. “We found satisfaction is no higher than reported in 1976,” CCMC’s Scott Broetzmann said in a press release. “People are frustrated that there are too many automated response menus, there aren’t enough customer-care agents, they waste a lot of time dealing with the problem, and they have to contact the company an average of four times to get resolution.”

And in case you’re wondering about a model your association shouldn’t follow, don’t act like your cable provider: The study found that cable and satellite TV services angered their customers the most.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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