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Health and Harmony in the Workplace: Stop the Two Top Customer Service Complaints

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Waiting, waiting, waiting—for a call, email, payment, information, or service and all you get are delays or no response. Frustration runs high and you question your trust in the business or department and their competency. Responsiveness and rudeness are top customer service complaints. 

Respond and Inform

Grace Marks

Why the delays? Most unresponsiveness is due to not knowing what to say, what to do, needing more time, fearing the outcome, inability to deliver what is requested, or waiting on someone else for information, and so the tendency is to delay or procrastinate, hoping it will go away. Making customers wait increases their anxiety and frustration and can jeopardize a business’s reputation.

There is a simple solution—inform. Let customers know there will be a delay if more time is needed, alert them to reasons for the delay and approximately how long it may take to resolve, and inform them of any missing information holding up their request. Whatever the situation, take the time to send a quick email or make the call to reduce customer frustration. Customers will be more patient and understanding when they are given information rather than feeling disrespected and ignored.

Customers do expect you to be there for them when they need you. Almost nothing can lead to a lost customer faster than being unavailable or inaccessible. If you have a business website, make sure it is in working order with accurate information. If your business hours are set and on the door, do honor the opening and closing times.

Rudeness Affects Reputation and Morale

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According to a study in the Journal of Service Research, more than a third of consumers say they experience rude customer service at least once a month. Researchers also found that half of those surveyed witnessed one employee being rude to another at least once a month, and the vast majority of those customers who did (92%) ended up speaking negatively about the company to friends, family, co-workers or pretty much anyone who would listen. Rudeness has the potential to tarnish a business’s reputation and affect workplace morale.

Rudeness comes in many forms and can turn a small customer issue into a major one. 

The root of the problem is poor communication and customers’ negative perception of the way they are treated. Typical situations include abruptly being put on hold with no choice in the matter, an employee arguing with a customer, calls not being returned, customers being accused of doing something wrong or lying, and being ignored when they come into the business. 

Non-Verbal Rudeness

Tone of voice speaks volumes. A monotone voice says to the customer, “I am bored and have no interest in what you’re talking about.” An abrupt speed and very loud tone can communicate, “I’m angry and not open to input.” Whether the tone sounds disinterested or frustrated, all can be perceived as rudeness. Non-verbal behaviors such as sighing, rolling of the eyes, and other sounds and facial expressions of indifference or exasperation, also contribute negatively to the customer experience. Many times these actions are unconscious so become mindful of your words, tone, and volume.

The first step is to recognize these issues exist and take steps to increase awareness of how these behaviors impact customers, your reputation, and overall service to others. Good customer care can be summarized by the Golden Rule, “treat others the way you want to be treated.” More than ever before, we live in a world that longs for more compassion, more cooperation, and more peace.

Grace Marks, MPH, CPC, is a health educator, certified life coach, motivational speaker, and holistic stress management instructor with Native Empowerment: Solutions for Health and Harmony providing customized training programs for tribal organizations and businesses. If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to, 928 774-1284, or visit