28th June 2012 | News
Customer rage is on the increase, fuelled in part by the prevalence of social media. Customers who have had their complaints ignored – or perhaps spent hours trying in vain to resolve matters through the company’s call centre – can now take their revenge by posting details on the internet.
New research from the University of Queensland Business School in Australia found that companies that are receptive to customer needs, including their complaints, are rewarded with loyalty, but where complaints are mishandled it can result in powerful feelings of rage. In some cases customers even destroy company property or injure frontline staff.
The research found that customers make on average five attempts to solve their problems before they escalate to rage.
Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy, an expert on customer rage, suggests four strategies to help organisations avoid rage: take pre-emptive action; prevent customers from failing; recruit the right people for the front-line; and train employees to anticipate and cope with unhappy and angry customers.
“Often people who are good at customer service are promoted off the front-line” says McColl Kennedy, “so they are lost from the areas where they do the most good. More focus needs to be on training staff to deal with unhappy customers. The cost is minimal. The returns can be huge.”
She says complaints are an opportunity to salvage a relationship and staff should be trained to deal with them in a rational rather than emotive manner.
She adds: “Firms need to be proactive. Never allow a customer to leave with their problem unresolved. Exiting, spreading the word or, worse still, taking revenge, even far into the future when the company has forgotten about it but the customer hasn’t. The consequences are sure to be disastrous.”