Scorned customers are turning into vigilantes, arming themselves with video cameras, computer keyboards, and mobile devices to launch their own personal forms of insurrection. Frustrated by the
usual fix-it options--obediently waiting on hold with Bangalore, gamely chatting online with a scripted robot--more consumers are rebelling against company-prescribed service channels.
Behind the guerrilla tactics is a growing disconnect between the experience companies promise and customers' perceptions of what they actually get. Consumers already pushed to the brink by sliding
home equity, job insecurity, and rising prices are more apt to snap when hit with long hold times and impenetrable phone trees.
The biggest challenges in customer service may be dealing with consumers who are hard to mollify. For some, the sting of a bad experience cuts so deep that it transforms them from a merely upset customer into an activist no longer just looking for a refund.