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An Update on Customer Rage

By: Bill Bleuel


The WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University has published the 2013 update of the customer rage study. The 2013 version is the sixth study wave. A general conclusion from the study is that if a company handles a complaint well, the customer is more likely to become loyal. If the company does not handle it well they are likely to lose approximately 12 percentage points in brand loyalty than if the customer had never complained at all.

One of the key findings of the study is that satisfaction in the 2013 study is no higher than the satisfaction reported in 1976.  A quote from one of the authors of the study notes “people are frustrated that there are too many automated response menus, there are not enough customer care agents, they waste a lot of time dealing with the problem, and have to contact the company an average of four times to get resolution.”
The top 10 highlights of the study are:
  1. The amount of people reporting customer problems went from 32% in 1976 to 50% in 2013.
  2. The number of households experiencing customer rage increased 8% since 2011.
  3. Yelling has increased from 25% to 36% and cursing from 7 to 13%.
  4. The product most responsible for enraging customers is cable and satellite TV.
  5. Only 2% of the most serious problems involved dealing with the government.
  6. Customer complaint on social networking sites has increased from 19 to 35% since 2011.
  7. 56% of customers who reported a complaint said they received absolutely nothing as a result. his is an increase of 9% since 2011.
  8. Customer satisfaction doubled from 37 to 74% when companies offered an apology along with  any other monetary action to resolve an issue.
  9. Despite the rise of the Internet, customers complained 11 times more by phone than through the web.
  10. Satisfied customers tell an average of 10 to 16 people about their problem and its resolution, whereas dissatisfied customers tell about 28 people.
The study was based on a phone survey of approximately 1000 households, and was performed by NOVO 1.
The bottom line is it appears Americans are becoming more dissatisfied with products and services and are expressing that dissatisfaction more than in the past. The answer is that companies must commit adequate resources to address customer problems. Research continues to show that companies who provide positive results to the customer experience have higher levels of customer loyalty and financial performance than companies who do not.
This article was originally published by The Customer Service Institute
Published: December 17, 2013

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Bill Bleuel

Dr. Bill Bleuel is an award-winning Professor of Decision Sciences at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. Dr. Bleuel’s expertise lies in the quantitative aspects of business. He specializes in the measurement and analysis of operations, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and customer retention. He has held senior positions in engineering, marketing and service management at Xerox, Taylor Instrument Company and Barber Colman Company. Dr. Bleuel has also experience as general manager in two start-up companies that he co-founded.

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