Spending and Enraged About It? Customer Cursing up 6%
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) In the aftermath of the holiday shopping hullabaloo, American consumers are more than ever disgruntled with the products and services they buy.
That's according to a new "rage" survey by Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, which shows 56 million American households experienced at least one problem with a company's customer care service during the past 12 months despite $76 billion in revenue being at stake for the businesses involved. Time lost was the most often reported damage in 2013, with 62% saying they lost time versus only 40% who lost money.
"The moral of the story don't invest in improving your customer service unless you're going to do it right," says professor Mary Jo Bitner, executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State's business school. "If a company handles your complaint well, then you typically become a more loyal customer. However, if they don't, then you become 12 percentage points less brand loyal than if you never complained at all."
The study is based on one originally conducted by the White House in 1976, so numbers can be compared throughout decades. For instance, the amount of people reporting customer problems went up from 32% in the 1976 study, to 45% in 2011, and now to 50% in 2013. The study also found the number of households experiencing customer rage went up from 60% just two years ago to 68% this year.
In a day and age when customer care is stressed, Americans have never been more unhappy.
"We found satisfaction is no higher than reported in 1976," said Scott Broetzmann, president and CEO of Customer Care Measurement and Consulting, which designed and analyzed the survey. "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."
So what enraged U.S. consumers the most this year?
Not surprisingly cable and satellite TV products produced the most rage from customers. That rage also resulted in people yelling and cursing at customer service representatives when dealing with the worst problems more, with yelling up from 25% in previous studies to 36% now, and cursing up from 7% to 13%.
Other study highlights include despite people's typical view of a government being slow and unresponsive to customer-service issues, 98% of the most serious problems stemmed from private companies. Also, despite the rise of the Internet, people are still 11 times more likely to complain via phone than the Web. However, customer-complaint posting on social-networking sites, such as Facebook, has nearly doubled from 19% to 35% since 2011.