Customers Are the Maddest They’ve Been in Decades, Study Says

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Man upset by high prices
Stokkete /

Business as usual just isn’t cutting it anymore, according to the latest National Customer Rage Survey — and customers are increasingly cutthroat about it.

The survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Arizona State University’s business school, which has run since 2003, this year has uncovered a record number of problems with products and services. Nearly 75% of those surveyed reported having a problem with a product or service in the past year, and 63% of those said they feel rage about the experience.

Shoddy customer service policies aren’t helping — in fact, they may be making companies bleed money. In a press release of the findings, ASU says:

“[Consumers] remain hopping mad with companies’ second-rate efforts to resolve their problems, and have become steadily more belligerent when they complain. In all, the survey estimates that businesses are risking $887 billion in future revenue due to mediocre complaint handling (up from $494 billion in 2020).”

More than half of surveyed customers said the problems they experienced wasted their time, with an average of one to two days reported. Two in five suffered losses averaging $1,261, and nearly a third “suffered emotional distress.”

According to the study, consumers are “increasingly aggressive” in trying to get these problems solved:

  • 43% raised their voice.
  • 32% try a name-and-shame strategy of shouting about their problems from the social media rooftops.
  • Customers are three times as likely to “seek revenge” for their hassles than they were in 2020.

Fully half of customers polled say behaviors such as yelling, arguing, giving ultimatums and social media shaming are fine or depend on the circumstances. And a quarter said the same about threats, humiliation, coarse language and lying.

For a look at businesses that somehow manage not to upset swaths of customers, check out the list in our recent story, “Only This Retailer Beats Amazon for Customer Satisfaction.”

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