Painful Customer Support Experiences Bring 52% of American Consumers to Tears and Profanity

Genesys survey highlights cultural differences as U.S., China and India show highest rate of frustration while seeking help

More than half (52%) of U.S. respondents in a recent survey reveal they become so frustrated when soliciting customer support that they swear or even cry. This figure is similar to U.K. survey results (50%) but pales in comparison to the 60% response in India. Other highly emotional country results include China (58%), Singapore (55%), and Malaysia (51%), comparing to only 19% of South Korean respondents.

These insights are the latest in a series of research-based announcements from Genesys, the global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions. Genesys commissioned surveys in 13 countries around the globe to examine consumer opinions on the increasingly automated customer experience: Australia, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S.

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Which Americans cry and swear when contacting customer support?

Survey respondents selected just one option — frequently, occasionally, rarely, never — to this simple question: “Do you ever get so frustrated trying to get customer support that you swear or cry?”

In the U.S. survey, 15% of consumers say they “frequently” become so frustrated that they swear or even cry, with an additional 37% saying this “occasionally” happens. But not all Americans resort to tears and profanity during their customer support interactions. The survey data shows several interesting distinctions among U.S. respondents by gender, age, and geographic region — sometimes contrary to expectations.

  • Men lose their temper more than women. Within the U.S., more than half of male survey respondents (56%) say they “frequently” or “occasionally” become so frustrated by customer support that they swear or cry. This compares to 49% of women. The gender difference is even more noticeable when looking at those who answered “frequently” — 20% of men versus only 11% of women.
  • Generation X whines while senior Boomers chill. In the U.S. survey, 19% of people ages 35-44 and 22% of those ages 45-54 admit they “frequently” swear or cry during a customer support experience. Meanwhile, seniors over age 65 are by far the least likely to get angry, with 28% saying they “never” get so frustrated by customer support that they swear or cry.
  • The West is not the best. Among the four U.S. geographic regions, survey respondents living in the West say they have the highest incidence (59%) of swearing or crying during a customer support experience — 19% “frequently” and 40% “occasionally.” They also have the lowest “never” rate (16%).

“Throughout the year, and especially during the chaotic holiday shopping season, it’s a challenge for many organizations to provide frustration-free customer experiences,” said Janelle Dieken, senior vice president of product marketing at Genesys. “When implemented correctly, technology can remove the friction, enable businesses to predict customer needs, and deliver experiences that keep holiday spirits bright.”

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Who has customer support meltdowns?

While Americans have more emotionally charged customer support exchanges than survey respondents in other Western countries, 33% in India admit they “frequently” cry or swear, the highest rate among the 13 countries surveyed. China, with 20%, is the only other country besides India to show a higher response than the U.S.

South Korean and Japanese consumers have the lowest propensity to swear or cry during a customer support interaction, with only 4% saying they “frequently” do. However, if factoring in those who say they “occasionally” swear or cry, South Korea is the true outlier among the 13 countries in the survey. Just 19% of South Koreans say they frequently or occasionally swear or cry, versus 34% of survey respondents in Japan.

Only 20% of Americans are so relaxed with customer support that they “never” swear or cry. Among the 13 countries in the survey, only China (14%), Singapore (14%), and India (11%) had a lower response rate. This compares to the relatively stoic people in South Korea (50%), Thailand (41%), Indonesia (31%), and Germany (29%).

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