If you have ever had a meal ruined by a loud child or waited on a long line while a customer quibbles over the price of a pound of produce, then you have been a victim of customer service sabotage. Even though it's others customers who are inconvenienced by difficult shoppers, businesses are the ones that end up being most affected by customers who turn into saboteurs.   

"Customers don't just go to a restaurant to enjoy a burger," said Joel Anaya, a McNair scholar and a senior majoring in hospitality business management at Washington State University. "They go to have a good time, to enjoy the ambience of the establishment. If that's ever affected, if they ever leave liking your hamburger but saying they had a bad time, that's not a win for the restaurant."

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Restaurants, however, are not the only place where customer service sabotage occurs. In research, Anaya examined all the different types of shoppers who can have a negative impact on the shopping experiences of others. The seven types of saboteurs Anaya found were:

  • Badmouthers — These customers are the most common saboteurs Anaya found. "It's crazy what a few bad words can do, how uncomfortable they can really make other customers nearby,"Anaya said.
  • Paranoid shouters — Described as "really irate customers who don't know how to handle themselves," Anaya found that these customers begin yelling as soon as a problem occurs. 
  • Customers with poor hygiene — Theses customers are the third most common type of customer service saboteur that Anaya found. 
  • Customers who make outlandish requests— Anaya found an example of this type of saboteur as a person "who insisted on paying at a grocery store in pennies while others had to wait."
  • Service rule breakers — These customers don't follow social norms, like waiting their turn instead of cutting in line.
  • Bad parents with bad kids —"I just made it objective," he says. "This kind of customer affected this kind of service experience."
  • Unknowledgeable customers — Anaya said these customers will "belabor service workers with endless questions or minor quibbles while others have to wait."

To avoid becoming a victim of sabotage, Anaya recommends businesses pay particular attention to customers who may become saboteurs so they don’t affect the experience of other shoppers.

"It just begins with the acknowledgment as managers to say to your employees, your front desks, your servers: 'Keep an eye out for them,'" Anaya said. "These are the type of people that exist. These are the types of people that may affect our service quality perception from other customers."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.

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