Customer Service Survey
A nationwide investigation carried out by Ringover found abuse of customer service staff is on the rise. In fact, over two fifths of customer service workers have experienced abuse and/or hostility from customers, with 89.7% of workers saying they've experienced an increase in abuse and hostility when talking to customers in the past 12 months including in-person, business phone lines, and those working in call centers.
Abuse of staff will not be tolerated
Despite this increase in reported abuse and hostility, our research found that 79% of workers feel like their managers give them enough training to handle such situations, and 77% believe their managers are doing enough to try and prevent abuse or hostility happening repeatedly.
- The overwhelming majority (89.7%) of customer service staff reported an increase of abuse in the past 12 months, with the majority being ‘brick and mortar' employees (94.7%)
- This abuse has meant seven in 10 (70.6%) said they are struggling with their mental health
- With such a challenging work environment, over four fifths (84.5%) are actively or passively looking for a new customer service job
- However, 77% believe their managers/companies are helping combat the increase and 80% report companies investing in the wellbeing of their employees
- Over two fifths (42.8%) of customer service staff have been screamed or shouted at in the past 12 months as just one example of the abuse these workers can face
What have customer service workers had to deal with in the past 12 months?
Over the past 12 months more than two in five (42.8%) customer service workers report they have been sworn and/or screamed at by customers. Shockingly, nearly over one in six (17.2%) of customer service representatives and agents report that they have been threatened with physical violence, and just over a third (35.7%) have experienced a customer threatening their job (reporting them and/or threatening to complain).
Overall, results showed that more than three quarters (76.5%) of customer service and support workers have reported abuse by customers to their managers in the past 12 months, with over 90% of “brick and mortar” workers reporting abuse to their managers.
|Types of support team that have reported customer abuse internally|
|Traditional, brick-and-mortar support||90.4%|
|Messaging and chat||73.2%|
Increasing levels of abuse towards customer service workers
Our survey found that 89.7% (nearly nine in ten) customer support staff believe that abusive behavior toward customer support and service workers has increased.
Those working in traditional “brick and mortar” support roles are the most likely to report abuse increasing over the past 12 months (94.7%), followed by those working in message and chat support (91.1%) and email support teams (91%).
70.6% suffering with mental health as a result
Unsurprisingly, the amount and types of abuse given to customer service workers is having a damaging effect on their mental health. Responses to our survey found that 70.6% of customer support staff say the negative experiences with customers in the past 12 months have affected their mental health, with those working in traditional brick and mortar roles the most likely to say their mental health has been affected (78.4%).
Given how such abuse is impacting those in the customer service industry, it's worrying to see that 84.5% of respondents say they are actively or passively looking for a new role outside of customer service and support. Figures showed that nearly half of workers are actively looking for new roles (48.6%), while just over a third (35.9%) are passively looking to leave the industry.
Reporting abuse to management
Over three quarters (76.5%) of customer service and support workers have reported abuse from customers to their manager(s), however, it does seem like the industry and managers are helping their staff to cope.
According to the results of our survey, 79% of all respondents that work in customer service say they feel that their manager(s) support and help them after they have received abuse or hostility from customers.
Additionally, 76.5% say that their manager(s) take action to prevent abuse or hostility happening repeatedly and 80.1% say that the company they work for invested in their training or ability to handle complaints.
While it should be noted that 77% of workers say their key performance indicators (KPIs) have increased in the past 12 months, 74.3% of customer service agents and representatives say their managers and company do enough to prevent burnout or other mental health issues at work.
Interactions with customer service staff
In addition to asking respondents that work in customer service about their interactions with customers, we also took a look at how they treat fellow customer service representatives.
Results showed that the main reasons for people to contact are website troubles (33%), wanting more information to make a purchase (20.1%), and being dissatisfied with a product or service (16.4%).
Saying “thank you” to someone for the help or trying to help might seem like a ordinary and polite thing to do but according to our results, 81% of those that currently work in a customer service role as an agent, representative, or other, will usually or always thank their customer support worker for their help.
In comparison, just 63.6% of people that haven't previously worked in customer service would say thank you to a customer support worker.
While not saying ‘thank you' might be seen as impolite, our data reveals that 90% of respondents admit that they have “lost their cool” with a customer service agent–even for those in the field. Responses suggest that more than three in 10 (31.5%) admit that they often lose their cool with customer support staff, while 30.9% lost their cool on occasion, and 27.6% say they rarely lose it but have done so. Only 5.7% report having never lost their cool on a call with another customer service rep.
With this in mind, 10.6% of people say that being called or thought of as "a Karen" doesn't influence the way they talk to customer service workers, however, for the vast majority of people (76.5%) this is a concern that goes through their head.
Between 10/04/2023 and 10/06/2023, a total of 1,063 adults were surveyed about their work in customer service roles and their interactions with customer services roles. In total, the 1,023 respondents currently or until recently worked in customer service roles.
Respondents were asked a series of questions related to receiving abuse from customers, the reactions and management from their bosses, and how they interact with other customer service workers.
|Prefer not to say||0.3%|