5 Signs You’re a Bad Customer


Originally posted on U.S.News Money

Botched orders, rude waitstaff and that mocking, automated voice answering your calls – everyone has a customer service horror story. In fact, 68 percent of households have experienced “customer rage,” according to a 2013 telephone survey of 1,003 consumers by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Customer rage occurs when customers find themselves extremely upset about a company’s bad service.

Sign of a bad customer

But anyone who works in the service industry can attest that not every customer is a model citizen. In fact, Korean Air executive Heather Cho, also the daughter of the airline’s chairman, recently made headlines for being a bad customer. Cho caused a commotion by delaying a flight because she was displeased with the way she was served macadamia nuts. (To be fair, the flight attendant served her a bag of nuts instead of putting them on a plate.) She has since resigned.

On a smaller scale, there may be some things you’re doing that contribute to your negative customer experience. If you’re wondering how you stack up as a customer, here are some signs you may be the root of your customer service problems.

You always assume the company is at fault. You might think you were overcharged or didn’t receive quality service due to the stupidity or aloofness of an employee, but are you sure that what happened isn’t your fault?

For instance, Lauren Kay, founder of DatingRing.com, an online matchmaking site, says a former customer began sending emails to the company after he left the service. They were written in all caps and perceived as virtual shouting by Kay and her staff. The former customer was furious that he was still receiving emails despite unsubscribing.

“It turned out he had subscribed using multiple email addresses, which is why he was still getting the emails. Every time we tried to apologize, he would continue cursing at us and telling us to stop sending emails to apologize,” Kay says.

She says they were eventually able to help the customer understand what was happening, and he laughed it off. Still, there’s no sense in flying off the handle or sending a smug email, only to later realize that the idiot in the equation is you. In fact, getting angry and being mean can make things worse for you. Kay admits she is reluctant to set up a member who seems really nice on a date with a member who has treated her staff badly.

You overplay the victim card. You may justifiably feel wronged, but that doesn’t mean the business owner deserves to be roughed up in a dark alley. And while most consumers likely agree with that, some try to turn a bad experience into the opportunity of a lifetime, according to Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group, a global customer experience management company headquartered in Hackensack, New Jersey.

“If you paid $150 for a hotel room, don’t expect $1,000 compensation,” says Arussy, whose company’s clients include Mercedes-Benz and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. He adds that any business that does that can’t afford to stay in business for long.

The problem for retailers is that a lot of consumers expect that type of compensation – and some of them truly go off the deep end.

For instance, Arussy points to what happened with Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort last year. The theme parks stopped automatically allowing visitors with disabilities instant access to rides. It first sounded like a tale of a corporation being cruel, but as the media reported at the time, and as Arussy says, “People were hiring disabled people in wheelchairs to pretend to be handicapped family members and renting wheelchairs and telling their children to play like they were handicapped.”

“Abusive customers are penalizing everyone, and companies that were generous are having to restrict their policies,” Arussy adds.

But he understands where the victim mentality comes from. “People hear from a friend or on social media how they’re getting paybacks after a negative customer service experience, and nobody wants to be the sucker who didn’t get that,” he says.

You have a negative attitude. Was your customer service snafu truly terrible, or are you simply having a bad day? Maybe your outlook leans toward the glass always being half empty. Arussy says some customers are “inherently unhappy,” and their “life’s demeanor is that everybody is out there to take advantage of them.”

Joseph Grenny, a behavioral science expert based in Provo, Utah, and co-author of the book “Crucial Conversations,” echoes that sentiment. “Rather than assume the other person is purposefully doing something annoying, assume that he or she is unaware or the problem,” he suggests.

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