Can Poor Customer Service Cause a Heart Attack?


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Angela Hawkins, a Virginia grandmother, is suing Verizon for $2.35 million, claiming the company was responsible for both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Ms. Hawkins says she got so upset after being threatened by a supervisor that she ended up in the hospital where an EKG confirmed she had experienced heart failure.

It will be up to the courts to decide the case, but from my own personal experience, I know that poor customer service can raise my blood pressure. All of us in the field of customer experience understand the lifetime value of purchases and past loyalty and don’t understand why others just don’t get it. I had my own situation with Verizon. I have been a Verizon Wireless customer for over 25 years. I upgraded my phone and the representative recommended I change my plan based on past usage. The following month my bill almost doubled. I went to the store to resolve the issue and the manager was more than unreasonable. I wanted to go back to my old plan and receive a credit. I felt the rep had made a mistake in reviewing the plan already in place. I received a flat out “NO.”  Really, after being a customer for the last twenty-five years?  You can bet my blood pressure was soaring.

The word “no” gets people frustrated and upset.  All my loyalty to Verizon was tossed out the window.  The company was missing the forest for the trees by not considering my years as a customer and potential future revenue. I was furious and can still remember getting more and more angry and feeling my entire body was in a free for all. It wasn’t even about receiving the refund, it was about the way I was treated with total disrespect. My business was unimportant and under appreciated.

Back to Ms. Hawkins. In her case, the supervisor said he was going to send the police since she had threatened to kill everyone in the call center. She waited for two hours in her house, scared that the police were going to show up at her door. How many grandmothers do you know who would be so frightened if this happened to them that it would make them sick? A legitimate question. This was all over a $60 credit. The supervisor called back two hours later after listening to the recording between Ms. Hawkins and the agent to apologize.  He said she never threatened anyone. It was just a miscommunication.

My wife and I decided that I get too aggravated when I hear “no”.  No also takes the form of “I can’t, I won’t, it’s our policy, etc.” Getting so frustrated isn’t good for anyone’s health. Now, I just walk away or hang up the phone. If it involves money, I forget about it. No amount is worth the chance of getting sick.  I have actually put aside dollars into an account for stupid companies. I will give-in easily, just say fine, but never step back into the store or do business with them again.

I love being in the field of customer service, but it’s like being a doctor who gets sick. They know what needs to be done to get them better. Whenever I experience poor customer service, I know better.

Have you ever gotten so upset that it made your blood boil?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Shapiro
Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business was released February, 2016.


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