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Overcoming consumer negativity bias through excellent customer service


Every professional interaction should be a positive one.

Every professional interaction should be a positive one.

Businesses often refer to industry and internal surveys to gauge the satisfaction of their consumers and the general public with service channels. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the time frame between working with a customer care center and being asked about the experience. The further in the past an incident took place, the more likely negative aspects will stand out in consumers’ minds.

A University of Wyoming College of Law report shared research that showed negativity bias is real and can affect many businesses. One study cited in the paper showed people are four times more likely to remember an experience that harmed them than helped. Another discovered traumatic events led to lasting ill-will, while exceptional incidents of fortune don’t really affect a person’s ongoing happiness.

Consumers working with businesses often begin interactions remembering prior negative encounters rather than trusting a brand to deliver satisfactory service. To deal with negativity bias, customer care centers must deliver engagements that are so positive they overcome assumptions.

“People are four times more likely to remember an experience that harmed them than helped.”

The effect on customer service
Despite most industries shifting to customer-centric models trying to go above and beyond to please consumers, many audiences think service is getting worse, according to Forbes. Possible reasons for this discrepancy include singular negative incidents erasing good memories of working with a brand, people taking improved service for granted and a resistance to change.

Let’s say a company adds a new care channel to its service platform. Consumers are more likely to remember all the times adjustments frustrated them and not acknowledge changes that improved their service. So when companies make announcements, audiences may be on the defense.

This could also explain why a Corvisa – now part of ShorTel, Inc – study found 25 percent of millennials said they stopped doing business with a brand after one negative experience, according to CIO Insight. A singular incident can have a greater effect than a history of satisfactory care, especially for a generation used to convenience.

How to keep relationships positive
Positive experiences aren’t completely forgotten. While negative incidents may make a stronger initial impression, happiness can overcome if it’s consistent. Aeon magazine shared some of the same studies as the University of Wyoming and pointed out the rations necessary for positivity to win out. In research on personal relationships, partners had to generate five good encounters for every negative one to come out ahead. When it came to accepting praise, a person had to hear three or six compliments for every one criticism to create confidence.

A customer care center must deliver exceptional service during every interaction, across all available channels. Consistency is the key to becoming a business partner a consumer can think back on as a positive source of information and support. Customer relationship management software can help agents view each interaction compared to a consumer’s history to check and see if quality is constant.

When a negative incident does take place, quickly following up with suggestions or other solutions may help build up positive influences in the customer’s mind. A brand must do everything in its power to supply multiple services to create an overall image that consumers remember fondly.


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