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10 Kinds of Customer Service Calls That Drive Customers @!*%ing Nuts

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. / Credit: Anger Image via Shutterstock

No one draws the wrath of irate consumers like satellite television providers, new research shows.

A study by mobile advertising technology company Marchex revealed that one in every 82 calls to a satellite TV provider elicits cursing from the customer. Satellite TV narrowly edged out housing contractors, who get sworn at by customers on one out of every 90 calls. Cable television providers also ranked poorly for consumers flying off the handle, with one in every 123 customers, the third most, swearing during a service call.

John Busby, senior vice president at the Marchex Institute, concludes that television providers draw the ire of customers for two reasons. He said long hold times are frustrating and some of the cursing the study detected was during those wait times, while other swearing occurred when consumers were surprised about price or level of service and wanted products and services with easy-to-understand pricing.

Auto repair was fourth on the list, with one in every 144 calls resulting in cursing. Busby said consumers often drop an "f-bomb" when their predicament is dire, such as with major auto trouble.  Other businesses ranked in the top 10 most likely to be cursed at include:

  • Tow Truck: 1 in 159
  • Locksmith: 1 in 192
  • Storage: 1 in 214
  • Pest Control: 1 in 215
  • Heating & Cooling: 1 in 215
  • Housecleaning: 1 in 218

Busby said similarly to auto repair calls, those calls to tow trucks and locksmiths also produce cursing because consumers are upset at the situation, not necessarily the business itself. He added that appointment-based home services, like pest control and heating and cooling, all received below-average scores and could be attributed to disconnects in price, availability or quality of service.

Not all businesses receive such harsh treatment from customers. The study found that consumers rarely curse when calling up veterinary clinics (just once in every 2,634 calls) or when ordering flowers (only once in every 1,110 calls).

Consumers are often also very polite when calling property management, senior living establishments and those in the travel industry, including vacation packages, cruises and hotels.

Marchex offers businesses several tips they can implement to improve service, reduce customer frustration and hopefully cut back on the number of times they are sworn at, including:

  • Have easy-to-understand and transparent pricing and service: Nothing makes a consumer angrier than feeling like they missed out on a deal. Or even worse, like they are asked to pay for something they weren't expecting.
  • Reduce hold time:  Long hold times leave a lasting impression, and can deter sales. Calls with a curse had a longer hold time than those that didn't.
  • Empathize with the customer and acknowledge why they are upset: It may minimize the situation and allow businesses to move on to remedying the situation.

The research was based on surveys of 20 industries that rely on consumer phone calls and had a diversity of national or local businesses.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.