When a product or service doesn’t work as promised, some people get angry. Really angry. 

Cloud contact center provider Five9 released a report and infographic today looking at “customer rage” and what companies can do to prevent it.

Turns out 85 percent of consumers will retaliate against a company if their customer service needs are not met. 49 percent of all consumers will stop doing business with that company, and 18-34 year olds are three times as likely to vent their frustrations on social media.

“The customer is always right” is a pillar of American commerce. In a competitive business market, keeping customers happy is critical for retaining their business, promoting your brand, and keeping an edge on rivals. The Internet has changed the landscape for customer service, both in terms of customer expectations and in terms of creating new ways to connect with customers and deliver help.

Five9 said that customer service expectations are higher than ever before, and people no longer have the time, patience, or desire to have in-person interactions to get support. We are used to the instant gratification of an always-on world, where we can get help wherever and whenever we want from the comfort of our homes.

American call centers receive 43 billion calls per year. The survey found that 70% of people will first call a company for help. They might be irritated at this point, but there are a couple key things that send them over the edge — speaking with a rude or incompetent customer service representative, not reaching a live person when they call for support, getting disconnected, and being put on hold.

The best ways to calm customer rage are fairly intuitive —  treat customers with respect, be knowledgeable about the products, and be friendly and patient. But for startups with limited resources and corporations with large customer bases, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Companies like ZenDesk, Freshdesk, Salesforce’s Desk.com., Kalibrr, and Olark have various approaches to creating strong online customer service. Software-as-a-service is playing a significant role in reshaping customer service efforts and giving businesses with an online presence the tools they need to respond to their customers.

People may first look at FAQs or troubleshooting pages when they have a complaint or question, but the desire to express your grievance to an actual human being right away and get actual help may never go away. Good customer service isn’t about automating and digitizing the entire process, but rather about connecting customers with real humans in an efficient and effective way.

Check out this infographic.


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Five9 between September 25–27, 2013 among 3,014 US adults age 18 or older. 

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