In the service sector, customer service is the backbone of customer satisfaction, which depends on employees. The positive attitude of service employees helps in improving the customer service. However, a distressing feature during the service role is that service companies may face aggressive behavior from customers.
Aggressive behavior could arise during service encounters especially when things are going wrong. Baron (1993, p. 142), identified three levels of aggression from the customers’ side that have a linkage with service employees
- The first level includes withholding cooperation, spreading rumors and using offensive language behaviors that are shown from customer side.
- In the second level, intense arguments and verbal threats are included.
- Lastly in third level, frequent displays of intense anger, physical fights and the use of weapons kinds of behaviors are shown from the customers’ side.
Understanding root cause of customer dissatisfaction / aggression helps to manage negative emotions that may arise any time by customers. According to Bacal, (2004) there are most important customer wants and needs which create positive customer perceptions. These customer wants are described below in Figure.
Problem solved: Customers always expect their problems are solved. But sometimes, if service employees cannot solve the customer problems, they can create positive perceptions through addressing the other less customer wants.
Acknowledgment: When customers are understood and acknowledged, it leads to better customer relationship. Hence, service employees should listen to the customer.
Choices and Options: Customers need choices and options to make decisions and if not provided they may feel helpless or powerless which may lead to frustration, anger, and aggressive behaviors by them.
Positive Surprise: Service employees must go beyond customer’s hopes and expectations, like offering discount or providing some extra benefits which are not available to them before. Positive surprises are most useful when dealing with angry or aggressive customers.
Reasonable simplicity: Service employees should make things easier instead of provision of complicated services, or else customers may be frustrated and aggressive.
Consistency, Reliability, and Predictability: Customers expect to be treated in a consistent way. Customer wants value against their time and money invested. When customers consider value, they also consider how they are treated by customer service employees.
Speed and prompt service: Customers want their problems to be solved quickly and efficiently, as well as consider how fast they are being served by the service employees.
Confidentiality: Customers want some degree of privacy when talking with service employees and they feel uncomfortable if there is other staff or other customers around them.
Sense of Importance: Listening to and acknowledging customers demonstrate that they are important. The importance can be given through specific phrases and techniques through which customers feel important.
Based on the views presented above, it can be argued that recognition of customer wants are very important.
Kuo, C (2007) determined four factors of customer service employee’s behavior in his study in respect to customer service employees’ behavior and customer satisfaction.
Source: Kuo, C (2007)
He concluded that service companies must give more attention to front line employees with proper training and emotional support which is necessary for them to cope with the increasing demands of customer service.
In the next blog I will be discussing on the training techniques that can be given to employees to handle customer aggression and how to improve customer service.