I’m a fan of companies that goes the extra mile for their customers. Unfortunately, not all companies offer the greatest customer service. Most of us have had a frustrating customer service experience at some point – but it doesn't have to be that way. If you follow these suggestions, you can get exactly what you want from customer service – and even have fun doing it.
Before You Do Anything Else, Bypass the Automated Phone System
If you’re calling customer service, the biggest problem you’ll face with problem resolution is robots; you can't be friendly to a phone system (well, you can, but it probably won't be all that friendly back). The best way to do this is to tap into the GetHuman database. Look up the company you’re dealing with, and the website will tell you the quickest way to speak to a real person. ContactHelp is also a great option.
Now, here are nine ways to help get what you want every time you talk to a customer service representative (CSR).
1. Treat Your CSR Like a Friend
Look at it this way – these people spend 95% of their time dealing with customers who are upset. So give them a break – be nice. Ask them their name and how they’re doing. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the mood lightens when you initiate a friendly conversation. Where are they in the country? What’s the weather like? Did they see that nail biter football game? If it’s the holiday season, are they looking forward to the New Year?
Get a conversation going, and get them smiling and laughing. Make sure you reciprocate, and be genuine. The CSR is now dealing with someone they like, not someone they want to get rid of. And when CSRs deal with people the like, they treat them well.
2. Say “We” as Much as Possible
My dad used to have a saying, and I still use it: “’I want’ never gets.” You want the CSR to think of himself as part of your team. So, don’t say “I,” say “we.”
“Hey John, how are we going to get this resolved today?” brings the CSR on your side. They’re now working with you, rooting for you to succeed. On the other hand, “How am Igoing to get this solved?” is your problem. It’s a tiny change in tone, but it works wonders.
3. Get Them Saying Yes, Yes, Yes
By asking questions that can only be answered “yes,” you get the CSR in a pattern of agreement. “So, this is the deal I have right now? And you say I’ve been with you for six years? And I am considered a loyal customer?” Yes. Yes. Yes. Then you slip in something that you want them to say yes to. “And is there something you can do for me, today, because I’m a valued customer?” That’s a really tough one to say no to.
4. Ask Them for Their Opinion
The CSR knows way more about your options than you do – which means that they might know of a way to help you that you weren't aware of. Explain the situation, and then say “What would you do in my position?” Now they’re thinking about this from your perspective, but with their incredible knowledge of the system. I have used this several times, most recently when I was about to be charged $125 by an airline for an overweight bag. I said “Oh wow, that’s just something I didn’t budget for; what would you do in my position?” After a few seconds, I was charged for two bags instead of one overweight bag, saving me $100.
5. Be 100% Prepared
Information such as when you ordered, when the product arrived, when you made a return, and when you previously spoke to customer service can all be helpful. Make sure you have all this information before contacting customer service. Oh, and you know how they always give you those reference numbers at the end of a call? Actually write them down.
Also, it can help to read up on the company's policies. I know I said in the previous point that the CSR probably knows more than you – but they might not know everything. If you come across any parts of the policy that might be helpful to you, have them handy.
6. Call at the Best Time
Customer service software maker ZenDesk did a study of the best time to call customer service and discovered that people who call between 9 and 11 am generally have their issues dealt with the fastest. It makes sense – when you call in the morning, you're dealing with CSRs who are just starting their day and have a clean slate. And the “call” part is also key – ZenDesk reported that using the phone gets much faster results than email or social media.
7. If You Need to, Take Things Up a Level
If you aren't getting anywhere, try going further up the chain of command. This could mean asking nicely to speak to a supervisor, or you could use what's often called “Executive Customer Service.” Utilizing this usually takes you to people who have a lot of power within the company you have an issue with. Google it for the company you want to contact, and you should find the name, phone number, and/or email address of someone who might have more power to assist you.
8. Mention You Might Take Your Business Elsewhere
The old saying is true – it is much cheaper for a company to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. If you’ve exhausted all options, consider telling your CSR that you might take your business elsewhere. Your CSR will go into “save sale” mode. You will probably be transferred to a department called retention that has the skills and power to keep you. They will offer you options the regular CSR cannot.
9. Always Reward Good Behavior
If you have a great customer service experience, always take the time to let the company know. Fill out surveys if you receive them, or take the time to write a short email to the company (and make sure to include the call reference number so they know which representative helped you). The more you reward good behavior, the more likely it is that customer service centers will be staffed with helpful people. And who knows – maybe you'll even help the CSR get a raise or bonus. Isn't it nice to help people who help you?