Next time, before choosing your words to speak to the customer service employees, just remember, it will completely determine the service you will be provided with in future, warns a new study.
The research by University of British Columbia, published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology
, found that personally targeting employees by saying, "Your product is garbage" instead of "This product is garbage," can trigger negative responses from service employees.
‘Customers can get better service from call center employees through their choice of language and ability to follow conversation rules.’
"We know that customer service quality suffers when customers are rude or aggressive to employees," said study's lead author David Walker. "But our research is one of the first to pinpoint the specific words service employees hear from customers that can undermine the quality of customer service," Walker added.
The team analyzed 36 hours of calls and over 1,00,000 words between a Canadian call center's customers and employees through transcript and computerized text analysis in a multi-level, multi-source, mixed-method field study. They found that more than 80% of the calls contained aggressive customer language or interruptions.
When customers were not aggressive towards employees, fewer than 5% of calls had customer service problems, such as an employee making a blunt comment or using a raised voice. But, when customers targeted their aggression using second person pronouns (e.g. you, your) and interrupted the employee, customer service worsened in more than 35% of calls.
The researchers also found that these problematic effects were significantly reduced when customers used positive words like great and fine, suggesting that customers might be able to help employees provide better service by using more positive words.
Based on these findings, the researchers said that customers can get better service from call center employees through their choice of language and ability to follow conversation rules. Mixing positive language into the conversation can also lessen some stress that service employees experience on the job and result in better customer service.
"Employees can handle a lot, but when aggressive language and interruptions happen together - combined with minimal positive language from the customer - employees get to a point where customer service quality suffers. Customers need to remember that they're dealing with human beings," Walker explained.