Consumer Rage On The Rise: 3 Ways To Support Agents

image of woman punching through computer screen and yelling to represent consumer rage

Consumer Rage On The Rise: 3 Ways To Support Agents

Reports show that empathy started declining even before the pandemic. This year, the 2023 Customer Rage Survey indicates customers are experiencing more problems and 79% will complain about them.  Not only are performers like Harry Styles and Pink having objects thrown at them on stage, your agents have abuse thrown at them regularly. There are ways to support agents even with consumer rage on the rise.

1) Reduce Consumer Problems

One of the reasons customers are angry according to the 2023 Customer Rage Survey is because they are experiencing more product and service problems than ever. They are more likely to raise their voice and be more aggressive on their first interaction too.

This isn’t just your agent’s problem either. According to the same 2023 report, businesses risk $887 billion in future revenue from poor customer complaint handling. That is a huge jump from the $494 billion from the 2020 survey data. Plus, the number of customers pursuing revenge has tripled since 2020.

So what can you do? Firstly, to proactively fix or prevent problems you need to collect data on your product and support performance. That’s where generative AI can help. Performing automated QA by analyzing instances, generative AI summaries give you a granular view of what is working and what isn’t. This allows you to pivot more quickly and without the cost of employee hours to analyze manually.

Then actively address the common problems. Provide up to date self-help options. Address high call volume times with proper scheduling. Adjust product and services to match consumer needs as they evolve rather than trying to play a costly game of catch up.

2) Empower Agents With the Right Tools

Agents are managing so many things during interactions: filling out forms, moving through dashboards, staying mindful of metrics, remembering policies, asking clarifying questions, all while listening and deciphering customer needs. 

That’s a lot. It’s challenging for them to manage customer emotions, along with their own, and not make any mistakes that make the situation worse. Help them to provide the best CX.

Agent service is only as good as the tools they are given. That includes solid training on product, on policies, on software and soft skills like empathy

Integrated tools that work seamlessly save time and effort that your agents can put into solving customer issues.

Thoughtfully created auto prompts during interactions help agents stay within policies and focused on answering customer questions well.

With soft skills like empathy, realize that nuance is important. Empathy fatigue is real and fake empathy doesn’t work. As seen in the aforementioned reports, poor empathy is costly. It’s worth investing in teaching (and modeling) quality empathy to help keep your customers and your agents. 

3) Offer Agents Practical Support

Someone who was about to enter the contact center world as an agent went on Quora to ask for advice on how to protect their health. They received some insightful advice from people who have worked on the customer service front lines. 

One respondent suggested that if customers are Americans the agent should try to hide their accent or they “will get eaten alive.”  Another said “if your scores go down, your manager is going to take your happiness away.” Not exactly an endorsement for the job.

You can’t control what consumers say and do, but you can create a supportive culture. What you model matters. Teach your agents customer empathy, but also offer your agents empathy too. 

Firstly, allow for basic needs to be met like bathroom breaks and time for food. Then have a plan to offer support to agents coming off a difficult interaction: time to calm down, actively listen if they need to talk, have a quiet place they can take a break in. Agents can’t give their best if they’re physically and emotionally drained.  

You can’t intervene if you don’t know what’s happening. Use tools like CSAT.AI with agent abuse alerts and brand threat alerts. These help you to help your agents and your company by making you aware of abusive situations so you can prevent further damage. 

Quality CX is a worthy goal, but it needs to be balanced with agent support. They are intertwined. It’s even more important with the rising temperatures to have a plan for diffusing the consumer rage bomb and its impact on your agents. Identify the reasons for customer anger that you can positively impact. Use tools like CSAT.AI to make that data collection easy. Then make the adjustments necessary to improve. At the same time, support your agents in practical ways with quality tools and a culture that respects their well-being.