‘Watch out little Dutch boy, I have a nasty bite’. This is a direct quote from a customer who unfortunately lost her money to a scammer. However, instead of reaching out to this scammer, this lady ended up with me, Aaron de Kievid. A little Dutch boy with a website called Trend Gear. The scammer used a similar name which caused several angry customers to accuse me of stealing their money. And while many of the customers apologized the second I redirected them to my website, some customers were extremely stubborn. Continuing to accuse me and being unapologetically rude.
Now I am not an angry person. In fact, I had to deal with a fair deal of bullying when I was younger and this gave me quite a tough skin. It taught me to stay kind because as cliché as it may sound, ‘Kill them with kindness’ really works out in most cases for me. Knowing this, some might say that I am a perfect candidate for customer service. I have the ability to be extremely polite and helpful to customers and I tend to use these abilities when it comes to people reaching out to this website. However, in the last couple of years, my opinion on this matter slowly changed.
The reason why I am writing about this today is because I am in fact extremely angry at the moment. This woman managed to make me lose my ability of politeness by sheer rudeness. Instead of apologizing to me after finding out that she was falsely accusing me, she kept trying to make me look suspicious. This wasn’t what caused my fall out as I understand where she is coming from. However, after trying to explain to her why I was upset by these accusations she responded with the quote I mentioned at the beginning. My response is exactly what I want to share with you today.
The Rise of Rudeness
Being a trend researcher, I take a close look at companies in order to find out how they handle new customer expectations. Something that stood out in the last few years was the fact that companies needed to become way more transparent. Customers want to trust you as a business and this forces companies to become less corporate and more human. However, corporate values are way less complex than human values which makes it way easier to follow protocol when dealing with rude or angry customers.
Trend Gear has always been a human-driven website controlled by just one person. I also have no intention of ever becoming a company with corporate values. Trend Gear is part of me so it will often reflect my values as a result. This means that when people are rude to Trend Gear, they aren’t being rude to a business, they are rude to one human-being who’s excited by every like, view or comment generated on his website.
I work at Burger King so I have plenty of experience with rude customers. None of those experiences come close to this one though. It’s not necessarily because of what she said but because of her inability to realize that the conversation wasn’t a customer talking to a producer but a human talking to a human. She managed to make me feel like one of those chatbots with just one task. To satisfy the customer. This particular feeling is what angered me. And now I want to share my opinion on why customers are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.
On one hand we want companies to be more human and take responsibility for pretty much everything that’s wrong in the world and in our personal lives but on the other hand, we keep treating companies like emotionless entities. We’ve all done it at least one time. Something goes wrong and we get annoyed because in our little arrogant minds we expect nothing but excellence all the time. It can either be getting a cappuccino while you ordered a latte macchiato or an employee not helping you the way you’re used to.
Especially online we as customers tend to be extremely rude when pointing out mistakes made by companies. Having to deal with a few rude people once already made me feel incredibly guilty to all employees who had to deal with me when something went wrong. Even when these people do everything in their power to help us find a solution in the politest way imaginable, we will not drop our attitude.
Now I am definitely not saying that all customers are like this. However, I am encouraging companies to bite back a little more. Customer expectations rise every single time so it’s really important for companies to take back a little bit of power because there is an imbalance that will make it impossible to please customers if we do not break this trend. Luckily there are some companies who stand their ground despite customers expecting different actions. Take fashion brands not participating in Black Friday for instance. Customers expect insane discounts but they don’t think about possible consequences. Because in order to pay employees a fair price for producing clothes, they need to sell all products full price.
The ‘Review Revolution’ began as a trend I was really interested in, as I thought of it as a development that would force companies to be more responsible when it comes to societal challenges we all face. However, it turns out to be nothing more than a tool for customers to abuse their power. One review can literally destroy a great company, one dislike can make future customers question the quality of a product and one angry customer has the power to force a nice guy into writing an article like this.