Why Customers Are Getting The Short End Of The Stick

Ever buy a product that is faulty or of poor quality? Ever sign up for a service and it doesn’t work? Ever tried to get help for that product or service only to find that no one at the company seems to care or be able to fix your problems? I’d be willing to bet my enormous ‘imaginary’ fortune that almost all of you have been through this nightmare. I certainly have. In 2018 I began in earnest to complain to companies I dealt with about their poor return policies, ignorant customer service reps, defective products, etc., etc.. Since then I have contacted over 25 different companies and organizations that have fallen woefully short of their “pledges” to actually care about the customer. I remember reading an article in Business Week magazine in the 80s about the rise of the customer service trend in businesses. I guess that viewpoint was a little short-sighted.

This “I don’t give a damn” attitude is now practiced by all types and sizes of organizations and firms in all types of industries. I’ve even been told that customer service is not their responsibility by open-source software companies whose “customers” often depend on the software and services for their daily tasks such as creating and maintaining vital business and personal documents, keeping track of important contacts and financial records, and all kinds of necessary projects. These days people are buying everything from dental floss to their own islands on the Internet. In the past consumers could see and “kick the tires” before buying. And sellers stood behind their wares with legitimate guarantees, prompt service, and quick refunds if necessary. Now buyers can just point and click to search for what they want and often have to rely on pathetic photos, the “honesty” of the sellers, and inaccurate or vague descriptions of the item or service. Then they have to endure indifference, useless conversations, and such when contacting customer support.

Joe Rawlinson wears many hats such as author, blogger, email automation expert, and owner of Returncustomer.com which features articles on topics like “The 7 Most Common Customer Complaints and How to Respond”. This article points out that, in all industries, it is certain that a customer is going to complain. And their gripes can be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s the company’s fault and sometimes it’s the customer’s misinterpretation of the situation. The 7 most common customer complaints are shown here:

The venerable champion of American consumers everywhere, Consumer Reports, in their 2016 Customer Service Buying Guide, surveyed Americans about their issues with customer service. They say that 88% of the survey respondents had to contact customer service in the past year and 57% of those surveyed were so angry they hung up during their conversation with a customer service rep before the problem(s) could be resolved. The survey found out that customer service complaints were pretty common. The following pie chart shows the breakdown of customer service issues among consumers in a 2015 Consumer Reports survey:

Even though we can get instant help by using chat and other online features, we still get upset over dealing with customer service. “Many companies today are simply awful at resolving customer problems, despite investments in whiz-bang technologies and considerable advertising about their customer focus,” exclaims Scott Broetzmann who is the president of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting. In fact, the level of satisfaction with service is no higher than it was in the 1970s. This is according to a study by Arizona State University. The ASU study found that yelling and even cursing at customer service reps by consumers has risen dramatically. Heck, even Consumer Reports itself has their fair share of complaints, in particular, the following:

So you can see that customers are still getting the short end of the proverbial stick when it comes to getting their just due from the company’s customer service staff. My encounters with businesses big and small have convinced me that it’s very hard to find genuine help from companies and organizations so hold on to it when you come across it. And spread the word to consumers all over. Maybe if we stand up for rights as buyers of products and services things will get better!

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