When hate is unleashed in customer service

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If technology doesn't work as it should, it's annoying. Frustration builds up. It is often vented on the customer service hotline or in help forums on the Internet. At Deutsche Telekom, too, customer service representatives are personally attacked, insulted and threatened. In this Digital Crime episode we explore the question of how and why customers become haters.

In the podcast "Digital Crime" there are six episodes about no-hate-speech.

In the podcast "Digital Crime" there are six episodes about no-hate-speech.

Customers also turn to "Telekom hilft", Telekom's social media customer service, with their concerns about Telekom products. Most of the time, it's about network malfunctions or technical problems. If the Internet is not running, the TV picture remains black or if the bill is incorrect, it leads to bad moods and frustration. Service employees are familiar with this. They are trained in dealing with customers and handle all concerns professionally. They know: Working technology and being online means participating in society.

But time and again, boundaries are crossed in the dialog with customers. A complaint turns into anger, anger into pure hatred. Characteristics of the customer advisors that are recognizable on the phone or online, such as gender or a foreign accent, are taken as an opportunity to deny competencies. And sometimes those who actually want to help are threatened or wished dead. 

Why do we encounter hate on the Internet so often?

In the current Digital Crime episode, you'll get to know Markus. He is community manager at "Telekom hilft" and a communications expert. One of his tasks is to intervene and support his colleagues in social media during difficult customer conversations. It's a challenging task that also pushes him to his limits time and again. He knows from personal experience what it's like to be confronted with the hatred of others. When the attacks on him and his team had piled up, they launched the "And you want me to help you?"- campaign. You can learn more about the campaign and Markus' experiences in the current podcast episode. 

But where does the hate come from and why is it so rarely reported? Why do perpetrators not fear any consequences for their actions online? Cybercriminologist Dr. Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger has been dealing with these questions for a long time and explains in the podcast what answers science finds to these questions and what he expects from the security authorities. 

Dr. Claudia Brandkamp explains that affected employees can also find support within Telekom. She works in threat management at Telekom. Her top priority is to protect employees. In the podcast, she talks about her options she has for setting limits and why haters even explicitly thank her.

Digital Crime - Real stories from the digital world

Curious now? Then listen to the current episode „Digital Crime – when customers become haters“(available in German language). And if you want to learn more about hate speech, hate against women and hate in gaming, we recommend our previous episodes of the season.

In each episode of Digital Crime, we look at the topic of "Hate on the Internet" from a different perspective. They are always published on the last sunday of the month. Make a note of the next dates. Don`t miss it!

Digital Crime, Episode 3 - Hate in Gaming

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Hate and discrimination are not only a problem among hobby gamers, but also in professional eSports.