Angry complaints in advice deemed ineffective

Academic research has found that clients who are polite when they complain about a financial service – such as advice – are more likely to receive a satisfactory response than those who get angry.

The University of Sydney study analysed more than 200,000 complaints about services and products in the US finance sector.

Conductors of the research, Professor Donnel Briley and Dr Kiju Jung, said they chose to study customer relations in the financial services sector because of the “pivotal role” it plays in the life of most families.  

“We are talking about mortgages; we are talking about banking; we are talking about large amounts of money that can cause large amounts of financial stress,” said Professor Briley.


“A successful complaint that is able to get some sort of financial restitution can be tremendously important to individuals and to families.”

The research found that customers were more likely to be treated favourably if they provided a large amount of detail in support of their complaint.

“Business decisions are usually made based on facts and supporting record,” said Dr Jung.

“The longer the narrative is, the longer the written complain, the more likely it is that you are going to get restitution.”

However, Dr Jung said anger might work in face to face situations but only occasionally.

“Sometimes it can be effective if you get really mad in some face to face interaction,” he said.

“Store managers may just want to avoid the situation as soon as possible and give you what you want. But going mad usually doesn’t help.”

Angry complaints in advice deemed ineffective
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Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is a deputy editor at Momentum Media, focusing mainly on banking, wealth management and financial services. He has also written for Public Accountant, Accountants Daily and The CEO Magazine.

You can contact him on [email protected].

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