Are the Days of ‘The Customer is Always Right’ Over?

People are getting angrier and it is now beginning to have an impact on the people who all-too-often are the recipients of that rage — the workers and employees who deal with the general public — which includes collectors speaking to individuals with unpaid debts.

The pandemic has upended much of our daily lives, and everything from longer wait times because of employee shortages to mask (or anti-mask) mandates is causing us to fly off the handle a lot more than we used to.

Workers are now starting to fight back, either by not putting up with unruly customers or by not putting up with the work at all. Workers in the restaurant and retail industries, for example, are quitting at a far higher rate than the national average. Consumers who were used to a “frictionless economy” that was humming before the pandemic don’t have the patience today for hiccups or friction, according to one published report.

“We’ve unnaturally privileged the consumer over the employee for a while now,” said Melissa Swift, U.S. Transformation Leader at Mercer, a consulting firm, in the report. “We’re seeing a shift away from customer obsession to a more balanced view of the world.” 

For the accounts receivable management industry, this hurts on multiple levels. First, companies of all shapes and sizes, from every corner of the industry have reported difficulties in hiring new employees. People have higher expectations, more choices, and a renewed emphasis on work-life balance, which are causing them to be more selective in where they work. Second, collectors have to deal with more upset and frustrated consumers, which could negatively impact their job satisfaction. It’s a vicious cycle that could cause significant problems for the industry.

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