The New Consumer Climate: Responding Effectively to Customer Rage

If you’ve been anywhere in the world recently, you’ve probably already felt it. Our patience as a society is growing collectively thin. Now a recent survey done by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting confirms it: consumer rage is spiking.

The poll shows that in 2022 74% of consumers reported having a problem with a product or service, an increase of 8% since 2020. But the more concerning data reveals that those who had bad experiences are increasingly reacting in troubling ways. Of the consumers who had an issue, 63% reported feeling “customer rage”. 43% admitted to yelling at providers and 17% of consumers surveyed reported behaving “uncivilly” toward a company for any reason, not just as a result of a poor experience. 

If these numbers aren’t enough to concern you, it is worth noting that this survey relies on self-reporting — meaning those who don’t recognize their behavior as problematic aren’t even factored into this count. For example, the term “uncivil” is open to the consumer’s interpretation and nearly a quarter of respondents did not consider “threats, humiliation, foul language, and lying” to fall into that category. 

Customer Rage, Strategize the Situation

Customer satisfaction has always been a cornerstone of successful business, but in today’s professional environment, you may find yourself dealing with situations that rise above the level of reasonable dissatisfaction. Here are a few things that will help if you find yourself in a heightened situation:

  • Know It Isn’t About You. It is an understatement to say that people are going through a lot. Recognizing that their emotional state might be the result of many stressors out of your control may keep you from responding with your own feelings of anger or defensiveness. Which, even if justified, will do little to help resolve the situation. Showing patience and compassion to a person, even when we don’t feel they deserve it, is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is struggling.  
  • Recognize the Importance of Their Concerns. Validating a person’s emotions is a powerful tool. You may have resolved a similar issue with a dozen other clients already, but to this client the problem is a fresh wound. Listen with empathy and let them know their personal experience matters. Make it clear that they aren’t just a number that will affect your satisfaction rating. 
  • Make the Person Feel Heard. People in heightened emotional states might disclose unrelated information like a sick child at home or the loss of a job. It might not be relevant to the issue but affirm that it matters to them. Offer personalized solutions whenever possible. Even if the fix for their problem is standard, try to frame it in a way that makes them feel like it is personalized to them.
  • Bring in Support. If you have been working with a client on an issue for a while and making no progress, it might be helpful to bring in support. Someone perceived as a neutral party may be easier for the consumer to hear than the person they’ve identified as their adversary. Their mind might also be eased by the confirmation of a “second opinion.” 

What does this mean for my firm?

The bottom line is, with customer patience waning, client service matters more than ever. One of the best ways to gauge where your clients are within the satisfaction spectrum is to survey them one to two times a year. Contact The Growth Partnership (TGP) today to learn how we can help you utilize Net Promoter Score (NPS) Methodology to measure, and subsequently manage, client loyalty levels.