More People Seek ‘Revenge’ for Customer Service Problems

A new study shows service is getting worse and complaints are getting louder.

March 08, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Wall Street Journal reports that “the percentage of consumers who have taken action to settle a score against a company through measures such as pestering or public shaming, in person or online, has tripled to 9% from 3% in 2020.”

More people are experiencing problems with products or services than before as well. “Some 74% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they had experienced a product or service problem in the past year. That is up from 66% in 2020, when the study last was conducted, and 56% in 2017. Only 32% told researchers they had experienced a problem in 1976, when a similar version of the study was first conducted,” the Journal reports.

Customers are becoming increasingly aggressive in their efforts to solve their problems with businesses, according to the study. Forty-three percent raised their voice to show displeasure about their most serious problem, up from 35% in 2015. 

“It’s the idea of, if you as a company don’t really seem to care, well then I’m going to take to the streets,” said Scott Broetzmann, president and chief executive of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, which conducts the so-called National Customer Rage Survey with the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. 

“Most people now are using a computer, they’re using some form of social media at this point, there’s a democratization of complaining,” Broetzmann said.

The Journal noted that the results are in line with other findings, including a study by Forrester Research and the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which plummeted in 2022.

"Defusing customer rage is not rocket science. Although many customers are looking for repairs or refunds, they're also hoping for a sincere apology and acknowledgment of their complaints," said Thomas Hollmann, executive director of the Center for Services Leadership at ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business.

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