Many of you will be familiar with Google’s autocomplete feature – the suggested phrases which pop up when you start to type in a word or phrase, based on phrases other people have searched for.
Google’s autocomplete suggestions can be pretty telling in what people around the world are thinking about their customers – and as well as Google itself, there’s some great tools out there to help curious customer service professionals see all of the questions people are asking about customers all around the internet.
So, what are some of the top questions being asked about customers? Typing in “Why are customers” into Google brings up four top search terms… with some telling results for everyone working within customer service.
“Why are customers so rude” is top (and according to search tool SEMrush, around 260 people search for this term every month.)
“Why are customers so stupid” and “Why are customers so entitled” are also top suggestions (“Why are customers so stupid”, for example, rings in 110 searches per month).
Finally, “Why are customers important” is the final suggestion – with a mere 10 searches per month.
These results indicate that there’s a hell of a lot of frustrated customer service workers out there, turning to Google for answers to their questions – who presumably aren’t getting answers from their managers.
So – are customers actually rude, stupid or entitled?
While the team here at Comm100 understand that customer service is one of the hardest jobs out there, we’d like to offer some alternative views.
We brought together three of our top writers and our blog editor to explain how these viewpoints are missing the mark – and how you can turn these interpretations around.
Knowing the types of difficult customers is the first step to serve them well. And you need more. Download this eBook to learn how to prevent, deal with, and follow up on difficult customers.Download Now
Why are customers so rude? While I wouldn’t want to call this an “age-old question”, it’s clearly a question being asked by many a customer service professional.
Let’s be honest – we’ve all been there. Listening to a customer rant and rave at you for what seems to be the smallest error, even about something that doesn’t seem like much of an issue at all. It’s so easy to think in these situations that they are all the same and to ask yourself the question – “why are customers so rude?”
We’ve all experienced times when circumstances have tested our tactfulness. And angry customers tend to take out their frustrations with wait times, service levels, price and overall product functionality on the closest target – and quite often, that target happens to be the frontline agent.
Fortunately, there are certain things that you can do to help handle these types of customers and improve the situation.
Firstly – remember that they’re not all bad! The majority of your customers are probably not rude. In fact, I’d warrant to say that the bulk of them are actually probably quite polite, so don’t tarnish them all with the same brush.
If you become brusque and abrupt in your interactions, you’ll probably find your customer mirroring your behavior. Keep calm and don’t forget to listen throughout the interaction. Ensure that you are not interrupting, let them talk and explain the problem fully. If necessary, repeat their complaint back to them. This not only ensures that you understand the issue, but they also know that you actually heard them. If you can understand your customer’s reasons for being angry and rude, then you can move on to actually solving the problem with tact and empathy.
Work with the customer to find a mutually acceptable solution that meets their needs and is within your remit. If you’re unable to solve the issue immediately, come up with a plan that the customer agrees with and get that plan underway.
Dealing with rude customers is difficult. It’s easy for them to get under your skin when their complaints are patently untrue and unfair. No employee should be forced to listen to abusive behavior or language, so if the interaction goes in this direction, it’s important to escalate and get help.
However, if you listen to them, you’ll probably find that there is a reasonable justification for their attitude. As you follow the steps outlined above, you’ll often find them apologizing for their attitude and rudeness with genuine contriteness. Not all customers are rude, and with a little bit of listening and empathy, you have the power to turn them around.
Read more from Hutch: The Seven Deadly Sins of Customer Service
Sometimes customers say things that are so… well, stupid. So much so that you really can’t find any other way to put it (except perhaps, really stupid). Whether they are contacting your company about a red product they thought would be blue, are needing you to slowly explain how to add items to their shopping cart, or are yelling at you for apparently no reason, some customers leave you dumbfounded at their complete lack of understanding of how things work.
Before you start pulling your hair out because of something stupid a customer said or asked, remember that you are the expert in your company’s processes: not them. As much as it’d be nice to live in a world where your customers knew everything, if they did, they probably wouldn’t need you!
The reality is that the world is full of people who have all sorts of different lives, stories, educational backgrounds, and abilities. People aren’t always going to be the way you want them to be, and that’s okay! It’s part of what makes things interesting.
The next time you catch yourself asking ‘why are customers so stupid,’ notice the expectations that you are putting on your customer, and your desire for them to be different. Although you can’t change who your customers are, you can change the way that you are thinking about and reacting to the situation.
Start by changing your story about the situation from an accusatory to an empathetic one. Maybe the person who didn’t take the time to read about the product before purchasing is running low on sleep because of a new baby. Maybe the person who needs you to explain how to use a shopping cart is from a different generation, or has never had access to online shopping before. Maybe the person who is yelling at you for no apparent reason is just having a horrible day, and never learned how to not take that out on other people.
When you can have a dialogue with your customers without judgement, you will be able to reach a faster, less stressful resolution. And, you will be open to seeing processes that really aren’t clear, or that do need changing!
Apply empathy, understand your customers’ needs, and patiently meet them at their level. With a little bit of luck, you might teach them something that empowers them in the future, and changes their shopping experience for the better.
Read more from Isabella here.
Imagine you visit your favorite coffee shop. The barista recognizes you straight away, greets you by name, and puts in an order for your favorite drink. They understand you, know your needs, and provide great service with a smile.
You’d be delighted, right? This experience is becoming more and more common, and it doesn’t just apply to coffee shops – the rise in customer expectations for great service applies to businesses of all types around the world.
It’s no secret that customers nowadays expect a lot. If your customer gets frustrated, they can easily amplify their negative experience through social media and spit flames, and yes, they know that they’ll be heard this way. Customers aren’t afraid to call out businesses who are emotionally deaf or who don’t bother to understand them or their needs.
You probably ask yourself, “Why are customers so entitled?” Well, it’s because they just want to be treated as humans, not just “some customer”.
So, what do customers really want? They want hyper-personalization. They want you to know their name, and even deeper, to know what motivates them. They want to know that you are going out of your way to help them rather than trying to extract money from them.
You must take into consideration that your role is to deliver value in order to exceed customer expectations. And nobody says that satisfying entitled customers is easy, but it’s completely possible.
Try to call them by their actual name instead of madam or sir. Go out of your way to help them and offer customized solutions to meet their needs. Understand that they are more than just a default customer, rather, they’re part of the family that is your business – and you’re a part of that family too.
Every customer has concerns and doesn’t want to feel like they are talking to a robot. Learn to listen to them and respond in a personalized manner – not by reciting a script. Try to be more empathic and understanding, as this will empower the customer and help them to receive the service that they have come to expect.
The key to satisfying entitled customers is by combining basic insight with emotional intelligence. Apply those things, and you’ll find that your perception of customers is transformed – you’ll be boosting your relationship with them and framing them as partners in your work, rather than adversaries.
Read more from Angela: 8 Ways to Plan for Black Friday and Other Seasonal Traffic Spikes
Whether you’re a head of customer experience or a contact center agent, customers are the people who you work for, keep the wheels of your business turning, and money flowing in.
Without customers, your business simply would not exist. While most of us can see that customers are important for businesses, it’s also true that serving customers sure isn’t easy. Even the best of agents will remember times when they’ve been left speechless over a customer whose behavior has taken them aback.
But if you’re ever on the brink of snapping due to customers who you see as lacking in manners, intelligence or tact, mentally swap positions with them and think of occasions you’ve received stellar service from a company. It’s likely that they valued you and viewed you as important – which in turn, helped you to feel valued and important, reducing the likelihood that you’d get angry or upset with them.
In short, being treated well helps you to treat others well. As a customer service professional, you directly contribute to that feedback loop – rude, entitled or demanding customers never exist in a vacuum, and are usually made that way through having experienced a lack of empathy, terrible processes or a lack of understanding from businesses.
When we write customers off as rude, stupid or entitled, we close the door to them – risking them going to a different business who truly understands them, and leaving us with the unsolved problems which caused negative customer behavior in the first place.
In this new world of customer experience, customers sure are important – and it’s the people and businesses who understand this, socialize it in their staff, and infuse a customer-first culture throughout their companies who truly lead the pack.
Are you a frustrated agent looking for answers? Or are you a manager working to counter this view? We’d love to hear your point of view – just leave us a comment below.