That Flush You Hear is the Lost Art of Customer Service

Customer Service
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Get your customer service mojo back!

I’m guessing many of you have experienced what I have experienced over the last few years, the rapid decline in the level of customer service from almost everywhere. Even the firms that used to be known as customer service unicorns are now acting like spoiled brats on spring break. I have had experiences with Nordstrom lately that are nothing short of unpolished, unprofessional, and frankly embarrassing for a firm that used to be the benchmark of customer service expertise.

An article I recently read on the falling levels of customer service put actually data to what we have all been feeling.

A new study by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting and the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows that Americans are encountering more problems with companies’ products and services than ever before, and a higher proportion of them are actively seeking “revenge” for their troubles. The study found that the percentage of customers who had a service or product problem in the past year has doubled since the 1970s, with 74% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed reporting having experienced a problem. Additionally, the percentage of customers who took action to settle a score against a company, such as pestering or public shaming, tripled to 9% from 3% in 2020, reversing a downward trend in revenge-seeking behavior.

The research builds on a study by the White House in 1976, which found that only 32% of complainants posted about their most serious problem on social media. However, the latest research found that 32% of consumers who had a problem posted about it on social media, more than double the proportion who did so in the 2020 study. Moreover, the rising dissatisfaction has become more frequent and complaints more aggressive, with 79% of customers complaining about their most serious problem to the company at fault, an increase from 72% in 2020.

Customer dissatisfaction is growing with no end in sight

Customer dissatisfaction hurts companies in more ways than one, costing them a lot of money in future business and the cost of servicing angry customers. As a result, some companies have begun offering expedited customer care as a perk for their paid members, biggest spenders, and most loyal fans, borrowing a strategy from airlines and credit card companies. However, more companies have been turning to automation to cut costs and cover staffing shortages in their standard customer service, which is prone to angering customers further.

The study found that customers’ top customer care frustrations were “being forced to listen to long messages before you’re permitted to speak to a representative” and “figuring out how or where to contact the company.” Meanwhile, 25% of respondents said they expected an explanation of why their problem occurred, 24% wanted an apology, and 23% wanted an assurance that the situation wouldn’t happen again. Unfortunately, customer service technology such as artificial intelligence is less likely to deliver the empathy customers crave than human agents.

Customer Service is a strategy to set your company ahead of the competition now more than ever.

So there you have it. Customer service isn’t what it used to be; the data shows it. But this also provides an opportunity for firms to refocus on doing customer service the right way. I sense that firms that will invest in doing customer service the way Nordstrom used to do it could find a firestorm of level customers coming running towards them. The marketplace is starving for a level of customer service that is just not available in today’s marketplace.

On your marks, get set, and go! Let me know when you find out I was right. 😉

If you would like to discuss how your company can finely tune its ability to provide customer care that creates loyal, revenue-generating, and passionate customers, schedule a time to speak with us here