You catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. That old saying is so cliché but so true, especially when it comes to dealing with customer service representatives. Sadly, I’ve seen so many people feel that yelling, screaming, swearing, and general baby like temper tantrum throwing will get them whatever they want.
With me and many people I know it doesn’t. In fact, I’m less willing to help someone acting like a first grader who had the ball taken away from him.
I spent over 20 years in retail environments and currently in a support position. I’ve done it all, bagger or cashier at a grocery store, management, support, customer service, sales, technical sales, IT, and so on. I’ve been yelled at. I’ve been sworn at. Insulted, threatened, harassed, chased, attacked, etc. All that ever got these people was anything from being asked to leave the store to being escorted out by the local police department in handcuffs.
How can you get customer service to work with you? That’s actually pretty easy and would go miles further than yelling and screaming.
First, be polite. This is the most important. The person you are talking to, whether over the phone or in person, is actually a person, not a computer. They have feelings and are most likely not the cause of the reason why you are talking to them. They didn’t make your computer crash nor did they make you drop that call so don’t blame them. I’ve personally driven over 20 miles out of my way (each way) to help out someone because they were respectful and polite to me.
Second, body language. Be open and non threatening. Don’t stand there and cross your arms, stare them down, grit your teeth. This will only create a tense situation. Be relaxed, make eye contact (not daggers) when you are talking to them. Be non threatening.
Next, know your facts. Nothing will blow your credibility faster than inaccurate information coming out of your mouth. It easy sets the representative you’re talking to at an advantage and they will think that if you can’t get the facts straight. Know what you are talking about and what it means.
Also, don’t lie. We hate it when people lie to us and we know when people lie to us. If you’ve had your computer in for service several times before, trust me, I will look up the previous tickets. Don’t lie about time frames, outages, and the number of times you’ve called. We have that information handy so we know. We know when you’ve been in for service, we know about outages, and we know you’ve been waiting in the store 15 minutes, not the hours you’re claiming. Also, we can tell the difference between a mistake and a lie. A mistake is getting the number of dropped calls in a day off by a few. Lying is saying you drop all calls when the records show you’ve only dropped a couple.
And, listen. Listen to what the representative is saying. Feel free to repeat what they say. It shows us that you are listening and chances are that the representative won’t have to repeat themselves (they have plenty of other people to help). Have a conversation.
Stick to the relevant stuff. Trust me; they do not want to hear how frustrated you are because of traffic or your sick dog. “Woe is me” stories will only get you yawns and a tired look. Stick to the relevant stuff, yes, you need to be very logical with this. What happened, when did it happen, etc…
Be firm but be willing to compromise. Be firm about the issues you’re having but what you think may be a good resolution may be ridiculous in their eyes. Six months of free service because your HBO was out for two days is beyond reasonable. Credit for the two days is norm, maybe you’ll also get a partial month’s credit.
Feel free to ask questions. This is a two way conversation. If you’re unsure about something, speak up. The representative will assume you understand them unless you speak up (but don’t interrupt them). When they are done, ask for clarification if you do not understand what they said. Leaving with unanswered questions will only add to your frustrations later on.
Don’t get impatient. If you are in a line or have a number, don’t get mad if you’re waiting a reasonable amount of time. The representative may be busy with someone and they want to make sure that their customer is taken care of, chances are they will do the same for you.
One thing at a time! Don’t unload several issues all at once. Let the representative know you do have a few (or several) concerns but deal with one at a time. Getting all jumbled and multidirectional will only make the situation less efficient and more frustrating for both people involved.
Remember your please’s and thank you’s. Yeah, it sounds so grade school but these representatives work hard and probably have a harder job than you do (for most people, there are some jobs more demanding than customer service, military, police, fire etc, but not an accountant or a janitor). Those simple little words can go a long way.
Know when they can’t help you and when they won’t help you. Big difference. If they won’t help you, they don’t care about the policies and don’t want to help you. If they can’t help you, they may have policies restricting them from doing what you are requesting them to do. None of them wants to get fired just to make you happy, if they can’t help you,
Don’t be afraid to ask for a manager or escalate. Be polite about it. The representatives are not superman; they cannot do anything you want them to do. Due to abuse policies are in place that don’t allow them to do everything (see above). Managers usually have more leeway with the rules, as long as they have a good reason to and their decision is a good one for the business.
Be willing to give as well as take. Sure, it’s nice to be compensated for your troubles, but if you’re looking for free service, expect to pay for something in return, maybe a discount on the service or even a contract. Like most businesses, they aren’t here to give away everything.
If you feel your representative doesn’t want to help you or isn’t competent, ask to speak to someone else or a supervisor. For all you know it could be their first day on the job and they’re still trying to learn the ropes.
Some companies have automated phone call surveys. Remember, these surveys, unless specifically asking about the policies, are asking you to rate the customer service representative, NOT the policies. If you didn’t like the policy but the representative did a good job, don’t give them a bad survey, these surveys DO go back to their supervisors generally.