Are we in an era of the complainers?

Interesting to wake up to hear that customer satisfaction has fallen for the third year in a row according to the Institute of Customer Service. It made me wonder what was happening is it about the environment around us or about us as individuals?

There are a number of possible factors that I feel may be in play creating this rise in complaints about businesses.

Firstly, we have been in a recession or at least challenging financial situation for at least four years. Families and individuals are finding the cost of living rising and have been struggling to make ends meet. Wages have stagnated for many but prices have been continuing to increase. So, when we do spend any money we want to get the most for it and it has to be right. After all why should we accept second best when we spend our hard-earned pennies?

Secondly, there has been a huge growth in social media in the past four years and that gives people the means to be able to complain in a more direct way. In previous years you would need to make a trip to the shop or business to complain or post a letter or send an email. Now it is straightforward and swift. If you don’t like what has happened then you can tell the company on social media and not only do you tell them but you warn everybody else about the problems you have had.

Thirdly, are we living in a more angry and grumpy society? You could be mistaken for thinking this if you look at the activity on social media, or watch the vox pops on regional television news programmes. It could look as though things have to be perfect or we are going to make waves – loudly.

Finally, perhaps it is just that our expectations are continuing to rise. We don’t just expected the same for less outlay, we expected more. As businesses have been trying to reduce their overheads and outlay we as consumers are still wanting to receive the same product or service but not the same as we want it to be better, bigger, faster, smarter etc.

More importantly what can companies, organisations and businesses do in this ever more demanding world? I am not suggesting it is easy, because it is not. However, listening to complaints, developing on the basis of customer feedback, be swift to respond and adapt and ensure you provide a human experience.

For me, I think there are a number of factors happening at the moment and in the past few years that have created this situation. There is no quick fix or easy answer and companies have to be on top of their game all the time.

You can find out more about the report on the Institute of Customer Service website

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2 Responses to Are we in an era of the complainers?

  1. Roger Nield says:

    Amanda, firstly this is a really interesting piece and raises real questions. If I may expand on your article I believe complaining has become mainstream with the failure of major institutions to act with honour. EG the banks (LIBOR and PPI) Govt (expenses) press (hacking) police (pleb gate). With these, the liberalisation of advertising like legal and betting advertising and the ‘dumbing-down’ of communications in-line with popular TV programming it is no wonder people feel they can complain.

    In fact for a sub-set of our communities, not just the articulate with time on their hands, complaining gives them power, self-worth and purpose.

    Better we all take a deep breath, point out where things have gone wrong and get on with our lives trying to improve the environments we inhabit as we pass by.

    But then we have also moved from a social control model of policing towards a due process one and the consequent americanisation of the nation…… but thats a separate blog.

    As is what IS honour?


  2. Roger Nield says:

    Reblogged this on Simple Things and commented:
    Amanda’s bolg raises plenty of interesting questions and possibilities!


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