Twenty-One Percent of Customers Admit to Cursing at Customer Service Agents — Photo by Shepard Presentations, LLC.

There’s an old story about an airline passenger who walks into the baggage claim office and starts screaming and cursing at the airline employee. The employee, who is calm and collected, responds, I am sorry about your lost luggage. At this point in time, there are only two people in the entire world who care about your luggage, and you’re starting to make one of them upset.

Unfortunately, some customers, like the passenger in the story, are angry. If 21% of customers admit they curse at customer service agents, does that mean that 79% are lying? I’m just kidding, of course, but with customer service being more important than ever, it surprises me that some companies haven’t leveled up their customer service and support. In some instances, they flat-out make customers angry.

Consider these findings from our customer service and CX research:

  • 60% of customers have hung up on a customer service/support agent.
  • 34% of customers admit to yelling at a customer service agent.

And the customer doesn’t even have to talk to an agent to become angry …

  • 79% of customers have called customer support, encountered an automated menu system, repeatedly shouted “Agent” or “Representative” into the phone, and eventually, out of frustration, hung up.

I’m an optimistic person, and it pains me to share negative information like this. Unfortunately, it’s the truth. On the positive side, more companies are getting it right.

Customer service trends and predictions

Each January, I share customer service trends and predictions. I almost always start with the trend that our customers keep getting smarter when it comes to customer service. They are educated by the best companies and brands that get it right. These companies provide easy access for customers to connect with their customer support teams. They don’t make customers wait, or if they do, they offer the option of being called back. They have knowledgeable and friendly agents who positively represent their brands. In reality, all they are doing is what they are supposed to do – what customers hope for and expect them to do.

Unfortunately, some contact centers still don’t do a good job. Customers experience long hold times, multiple transfers, phone disconnects, inconsistent answers, agents who are hard to understand, agents without authority to make customer-focused decisions, and agents who are less than helpful – and sometimes even rude. These are just some of the reasons customers don’t like calling customer support, which is why 43% of customers would rather clean a toilet than call customer support. Ouch!

To wrap this up, as customers, we need to give the people who have been hired to help us a chance. Don’t curse, yell and belittle the people who are there to help us. As company leaders, we need to provide a level of service and support that meets, if not exceeds, our customers’ expectations.

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.

Shep Hyken
Shepard Presentations, LLC.

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