COVID-19, the Great Resignation, and staffing issues have contributed to a workplace culture where the quality of customer service has declined—and while customer patience has grown thin.
- Customers are becoming far more aggressive and belligerent toward customer-service reps, with 63% of respondents saying they’ve experienced “customer rage” in the past two years due to poor service.
- At least 17% of respondents admit to acting “uncivilly” to a customer-service rep, with an additional 25% saying harsh language and yelling is not uncivil.
- Blasting company issues on social media has also become endemic, with thousands of businesses facing hostile one-star Yelp ratings due to small mistakes or failures, which can negatively impact small businesses.
Why It’s Important
Customer Care Measurement & Consulting released its 2022 National Customer Rage Survey in March, and found that quality customer service is suffering as a result of the ongoing challenges.
COVID, remote work, and recession fears have warped and changed the economy, leaving customers and employees with new challenges and stress to face as they face daily life. People are uncertain about the future, struggling to make the most of their savings in an inflationary economy, and being forced to rely more heavily on temperamental technology for work and entertainment.
It is easy in the midst of an economic crisis for companies to prioritize the bottom line over customer service, and the past three years have provided no shortage of opportunities to cut corners, streamline processes, and automatic inconveniences away. This issue has coincided with an increase in customer dissatisfaction, with the number of survey respondents saying they have had problems with products increasing from 66% to 74% in two years, with many not getting the assistance they need.
Sarah Buxbaum is a customer-service expert for CWS Hospitality who focuses on client appreciation and hospitality experiences. She and her husband are also small business owners, operating Whistle Hollow Wedding and Events in Tennessee, Endless Catering, and an organic dog food company called Barks and Berries. She is on the front lines of customer service, and she tells Leaders Media that companies are cutting their customer service departments amid economic stress, and it is hurting both customers and businesses.
“I’ve never received more calls for help than in the past two years, starting during COVID. It’s getting worse, unfortunately and it probably will not change until the economy improves,” she says. “People are going on Yelp and destroying small businesses for not properly delivering a side of macaroni and cheese—which is not the way to handle it. People need to hold businesses accountable but understand businesses are struggling with staff. This has contributed to this rage epidemic that is happening.”
“Some of the frustration is understandable. You do not want to be on the phone for two hours to call your bank. But companies like Bank of America, AT&T, and major airlines are not hiring the right people to handle frustrated customers and are not paying them enough to value their job. Many people do not want to work customer service jobs anymore because it is hard. Who wants to work and be yelled at all day?” says Buxbaum.
In an economy where it is easy for businesses to undervalue employees and for customers to respond to issues with rudeness and entitlement, small businesses need to respond to the insanity with consideration and thoughtfulness. Buxbaum says the solution to the stress and hostility of the moment is to care about your business and your time, respond to customers and employees with small acts of kindness and appreciation, and know that business owners have the power to make a difference for their employees in the midst of unnecessary grief.
“We spend a lot of time on our team bringing excitement to work. We do not treat our workers just as employees, but as family. We teach them how to share that experience with everyone they work with. We treat everyone the same, every customer should be treated with respect. We share our values with our team. We encourage business owners to go back to the basics and make our values and goals clear to our team. If you welcome employees and make them feel important,” says Buxbaum.
Buxbaum says that appreciation goes a long way. Her wedding venue charges significant sums of money for weddings and that means something to her and to her customers. She goes out of her way to make her clients feel important and appreciated for their business. Writing thank you cards to her clients is something she says goes a long way, showing graciousness that many people are not used to receiving.