Calming Angry Customers in the Age of Rage

Tips for Calming Angry Customers

Calming Angry Customers

It is a frustrating irony that despite massive investment in Customer Experience technology and call centre expertise, often the best we can offer our customers at the peak of their ire is a ‘your call is important to us’ recorded message.

We have all heard it and felt the mounting tension as we are put on hold for far too long to listen to far too many repetitions of that same far too generic message.

So why are companies still unable to deal with customers effectively when they have an issue with a product or service?

Because, let’s face it, no matter how good your product or service is, there will always be a time when something goes wrong.

How you deal with this can have a direct and often dramatic impact on repeat business, loyalty and reputation.

The effective handling of complaints in the call centre is, therefore, a critical component to the success of your business and yet it is often overlooked when Customer Experience (CX) programs are being implemented.

Instead, priority is given to the attention-grabbing aspects of CX such as upselling existing clients, delivering integrated channel experiences or branding customer touchpoints.

All are important – if you can keep the customers you have happy.

So why is everyone so angry?

It would be a surprise to absolutely no one that surveys have reported that poorly handled complaints lead to high levels of frustration, disappointment and anger among customers.

Unfortunately, these emotions lead to negative word of mouth and a desire to seek a better experience elsewhere.

Surveys also show that more than half of customers who made complaints felt they received nothing in return for their efforts – whether that was a replacement product, compensation or similar goodwill gesture.

With more and organisations implementing comprehensive CX programs, and CX moving up the corporate agenda for many businesses, how can they continue to overlook one of the key contributors to loss of revenue?

Often it is due to the decision to focus CX strategy on the new: winning new customers, delivering new products, introducing new processes – ‘positive’ activities which gain more attention than existing customers or pesky process problems.

But this is short-sighted – and financially damaging.

Studies clearly show that most companies earn a negative ROI on complaint handling.



The “Customer Rage” study conducted by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC) found that about 68% of those who complain and are satisfied with the response intend to re-purchase from the company again.

This figure drops by a massive 57 points to just 11% for those who complain and are simply mollified by the response.

Only 3% of complainants who aren’t satisfied with the outcome would consider future interactions with that organisation.
This is undeniably a huge lost opportunity for earning revenue from an existing customer base – one that could easily remain engaged and loyal with the right approach.

The repercussions via negative word-of-mouth are also huge: traditional word-of-mouth reaches around 12 people, while online and social networking word-of-mouth reaches a massive 69 times that, averaging around 825 people.

Making the call centre the true heart of your organisation

Corporations have long relied on the call centre to provide a wide range of services to customers at different stages of the customer lifecycle via multiple channels.

This direct interaction with the client throughout the customer journey puts the call centre in a unique position to address ‘customer rage’.

By evolving the call centre from its role as a conduit for information or a sales hub into a catalyst for action, companies have the best opportunity to deal more quickly and effectively with customer dissatisfaction.

This means that call centre teams need to be empowered to capture and articulate the customer experience and put the call centre itself at the heart of strategic CX programs.

But making this change is not simply about increasing the number of customer surveying implementations, although this can transform the call centre into a channel for gathering data on customer experiences.

It’s also about understanding how to turn the call centre function into a proactive ‘tool’, able to gather AND disseminate information across the organisation.

Most critically, it’s about ensuring any activity that gathers customer feedback isn’t implemented as a quick ‘box-ticking’ exercise that doesn’t add value, but as one stage in an action-driven corporate plan with specific outcomes, targets and KPIs.

For example, instead of a ‘once and done’ transactional customer service mindset, making it a whole ‘customer experience’ philosophy with service representatives focusing not only on the immediate request at hand but anticipating and addressing future needs.

To enable this holistic view of the service experience, companies, therefore, need to integrate the customer’s voice, whether that’s negative or positive, via satisfaction scores and verbatim feedback – with internal call listening, frontline feedback and quality scoring.

Moreover, they need to implement action management programs that identify both immediate customer actions – through alerting – and long-term change requirements.


Transformational change through integrated CX

This transformational change in the approach to service has the power to deliver statistical reductions in repeat calls and statistical increases in several Voice of the Customer (VOC) metrics – one of which must focus on complaints handling.

The ultimate benefit of this transformation is undoubtedly reduced repeat contacts, higher first-time call resolution, and improved VoC scores for call centre representatives themselves across a range of measures (call resolution rate, ease of business, overall satisfaction, and NPS®).

Measuring results in real-time also provides the front line with immediate feedback and ultimately validates program results with the customer’s voice.

Comprehensive feedback from survey data, the frontline, call monitoring, customer compliments and customer complaints will also undoubtedly strengthen service transformation as representatives are empowered to self-evaluate calls –driving faster, deeper and long-lasting customer experience improvements.

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About Jason Mallia 1 Article
Jason Mallia is Country Manager, Australia and New Zealand, at Confirmit, the leading global solutions provider for Customer Experience, Voice of the Employee and Market Research. Jason has extensive sales and management experience in IT solutions for marketing, analytics, customer centricity, and data management and has led sales teams in five countries.

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