Customer Rage On the Rise
They say customer service is the “killer app,” but if that’s the case, why are we so full of rage? A new “customer rage” study shows that in spite of companies’ investments in customer service, American consumers are more dissatisfied than ever.
The study, designed by Customer Care Measurement and Consulting (CCMC) and the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (ASU), shows that customer satisfaction is far less than it was in 1976, when the first study of this type was conducted. According to the latest study, the number of people reporting customer service problems increased from 32 percent in 1976 to 45 percent in 2011—before jumping to 50 percent in 2013.
Over the last two years, the number of U.S. households experiencing “customer rage” increased from 60 to 68 percent—and pity the person on the other end: the study found that yelling at customer-service representatives increased from 25 to 36 percent, while cursing nearly doubled from seven to 13 percent.
But it’s not hard to understand why people are angry, when 56 percent of those reporting a complaint say their concerns went unaddressed—up nine percentage points since 2011. “People are frustrated that there are too many automated response menus, there aren’t enough customer-care agents, they waste a lot of time dealing with the problem, and they have to contact the company an average of four times to get resolution,” reports CCMC’s Scott Broetzmann.
The solution for businesses? Do customer service right the first time, says ASU Professor Mary Jo Bitner, as poor service is worse than none at all. “If a company handles your complaint well, you typically become a more loyal customer. However, if they don’t, then you become 12 percentage points less brand-loyal than if you never complained at all.”
And, the study found, a simple apology can have a significant impact: when companies added an apology to any monetary remedies it offered, satisfaction doubled from 37 to 74 percent.
National Trivia Day
Here’s some trivia for you… Did you know January 4th is National Trivia Day? Celebrate this day of fun by sharing those tucked-away trinkets of knowledge and dazzle your friends and coworkers with some of these curious tidbits from mental_floss magazine.
- The 3 Musketeers candy bar originally featured three individually-flavored candy pieces in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, but with rising manufacturing costs and sugar rations due to WWII, vanilla and strawberry were phased out. The bar has been all-chocolate ever since.
- Alaska is the only state that can be typed on a single row of keys.
- Kool-Aid was originally marketed as “Fruit Smack.”
- That marking you use to dot your lowercase “i” is called a tittle.
- Approximately one in every four million lobsters is born with a rare genetic defect that turns it blue. M&M’s stands for “Mars & Murrie’s,” the last names of the candy’s founders.
- “Shaggy,” the lanky, always-hungry, scaredy-cat pal on Scooby Doo, is really named Norville Rogers. Failed PEZ candy flavors have included coffee, eucalyptus, menthol and flower.
- On Good Friday of 1930, the BBC reported, “There is no news,” and instead played piano music. Fredric Baur invented the iconic Pringles can, and after passing away in 2008, his ashes were buried in one.
- Like a human’s fingerprints, no two dogs’ nose prints are the same.
- The most popular song played by ice cream trucks in the U.S. is “Turkey in the Straw.”
- Pearls dissolve in vinegar.
Find more fun factoids at mentalfloss.com!
Hello, New Year… Goodbye, Clutter!
Do your New Year’s resolutions include a little pre-spring cleaning or closet de-cluttering? Instead of throwing your “junk” out, consider starting fresh by helping someone else in need. Your local Goodwill, Salvation Army and other retail and thrift stores are great places to start, but you can also target your gifts toward specific causes. Here are just a few ideas:
- Donate prom dresses and other special-occasion attire to underprivileged girls at donatemydress.org, or send your old wedding gown to a military bride through Brides Across America (bridesacrossamerica.com).
- Interview-appropriate professional attire, shoes and purses can help disadvantaged women pursue employment opportunities—contact Dress for Success Peoria at dressforsuccess.org/peoria or (309) 671-5200.
- Mens’ suits can be donated to Career Gear to help underserved and low-income men overcome barriers to employment and achieve self-sufficiency (careergear.org).
- Send your old iPod to Music & Memory (musicandmemory.org), and help the elderly and those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories.
- Have an extra pair of specs or running shoes? Send your old eyeglasses, as well as hearing aids, watches and jewelry, to New Eyes for the Needy at neweyesfortheneedy.org, or assist a fellow runner in Africa, Central America or Haiti by donating to One World Running at oneworldrunning.com.
- The Get-Well Gamers Foundation will take your new and used video games and help pediatric patients forget their pain. Visit getwellgamers.org.
- And don’t forget our own Children’s Hospital here at home! Join the Miracle Club and have a direct impact on the lives of children—visit childrenshospitalofillinoisfoundation.org and click on “Ways to Give,” or call (309) 566-5671.
A Measles Resurgence
by Gabrielle Balzell
Following the success of the vaccination program introduced in 1963, the measles, once responsible for causing up to 500 deaths per year nationally, was deemed eradicated. However, at least 175 cases of measles were confirmed in the U.S. last year—nearly triple the average number of cases reported since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared “home-grown measles” eliminated in 2000.
Though a limited number of infections—about 60 a year—are carried into the country by citizens who have traveled abroad, the recent surge of this highly contagious disease has the CDC concerned about the overall security of our national health—and thrust the hotly-contested vaccination debate back into the spotlight. Experts say 90 percent of domestic measles cases can be attributed to vaccine refusal, whether for religious or personal reasons. Last year, nine recorded outbreaks in the U.S. were linked to unvaccinated persons who had traveled overseas and upon returning home, spread the disease to other unvaccinated citizens.
Thanks to herd immunity—a term coined to describe when a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, thus eliminating the possibility of a major outbreak—a nationwide epidemic of measles is highly unlikely. Other countries, however, are still struggling to control this preventable illness. Measles remains prevalent across Europe, Asia and Africa, sickening at least 20 million and causing more than 155,000 deaths annually.
While the choice to vaccinate is a personal one, the CDC recommends children receive two doses of the measles vaccine, starting at 12 to 15 months of age. The World Health Organization (WHO) offers the following facts to raise awareness and protect you and your loved ones from contracting measles:
- One of the leading causes of death in children worldwide, measles is caused by a virus that normally grows in the cells lining the back of the throat and lungs.
- The highly contagious virus is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.
- Symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, dry cough, sore throat, inflamed eyes, small white spots lining the inside of the mouth and cheeks, and a red, blotchy skin rash.
- The virus can remain active in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours, and can be transmitted by an infected person from four days prior to an onset of the rash to four days after.
- The majority of measles deaths are the result of complications associated with the disease. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis and severe respiratory infections. More than 95 percent of measles-related deaths occur in low-income countries with weak health infrastructures.
- Vaccination resulted in a 71-percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2011 worldwide. By 2015, the Measles & Rubella Initiative—a collaborative effort of WHO, UNICEF, the American Red Cross, CDC and United Nations Foundation—aims to reduce global deaths by at least 95 percent compared with 2000 levels, and by 2020, eliminate measles and rubella in at least five WHO regions.
Learn more at who.int/en.
Upgrading Office Space: Four Big Mistakes
It’s an especially timely topic at the beginning of the calendar year, as companies of all sizes are making plans to upsize or downsize their office space. Forty-year commercial real estate legend Howard Ecker, who has worked on San Francisco’s Transamerica Building and Chicago’s Time-Life Building, knows this scenario well, as large and small companies alike regularly contact him for advice on how to create their own “dream office.” Ecker suggests a number of noteworthy mistakes commonly made by companies:
Mistake #1: Not considering who your target clients are. If you’re trying to expand your tech company service business, for instance, traditional office space in large office towers may not be the best fit.
Mistake #2: Treating office space as a job reward. Don’t use the “corner office” as a symbolic reward for “success,” if it causes your firm to use office space less effectively and efficiently.
Mistake #3: Not being flexible for future growth. Companies should create lease flexibility by negotiating a “termination fee” or “option to expand.”
Mistake #4: Failing to consider work-life amenities. It can help with recruiting to locate your office near other businesses and services that enhance the work-life balance of your employees.
If your company is considering a move in 2014, take heed of Ecker’s advice before signing that contract—or you may find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation with little room for change or growth.
What’s in a Name?
The results are in, and the most popular baby names of 2013 are… Jackson and Sophia! Babycenter’s annual list of Top Baby Names saw the long-reigning Aiden bumped down to the No. 2 spot for boys’ names, while Sophia claimed the top spot on the girls’ list for the fourth straight year. Close contenders included Liam, Lucas and Noah for boys, while Emma, Olivia, Isabela and Mia rounded out the top five for girls. Check out the top 100 names of the year at babycenter.com.
Color My Year
Emerald is so last year! Make way for Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year. Described as a “captivating, magical, enigmatic purple,” Radiant Orchid was chosen as the new “it” color for its ability to invite innovation and encourage “expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society,” according to the Pantone Color Institute. Look for the fuchsia-infused shade on runways and red carpets, as well as in homes, makeup and clothing stores throughout the rest the year. Learn more about Pantone’s annual pick at pantone.com.
Unlock in a Heartbeat
What’s better than a password when it comes to protecting your phone, computer, home and other belongings? Try your heart. Currently being developed by Toronto-based Bionym Inc., the Nymi wristband can read its wearer’s unique electrocardiogram (EKG), a measurement of the heart’s electrical activity, and detect an individual’s distinctive EKG wave shape to generate a unique string of numbers, called a HeartID, which can be transmitted via Bluetooth to Nymi-associated apps. The technology, anticipated to hit shelves in June, holds potential not only for security purposes, but home technology, marketing and more. iBi