Updated on 09.16.14

Getting the Best from Customer Service

Trent Hamm

Late last week, the New York Times published an article of reader-collected techniques for prevailing in customer service disputes. Here’s a sampling of a few of my favorites from the article:

USE YOUR CAMERA Suzanne Barchers of Stanford, Calif., always photographs any unpleasant surprises in hotel rooms, using her handy digital camera. Of a recent trip to Las Vegas hotel she writes, “When asked upon checkout how my stay was, I simply said, ‘Let me show you.’ ” The images included some dingy towels, broken shelves and a view that was less than promised and paid for. “My bill was cut in half without any prompting.”

ASK THIS SIMPLE QUESTION More than a few readers said that when stymied by phone reps, they simply ask, “What would you do if you were in my situation?” “Amazingly, they’ll often pass along an effective tip about how to get the desired result,” writes Frank Scalpone of Antioch, Calif.

BE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE, PART 2 Several readers note that when you’re talking to a phone rep, time is on your side for two reasons. The first is that phone reps are often timed and expected to churn through a certain number of calls per hour. The second is that nearly all are prohibited from hanging up on you. So the longer you’re willing to stay on the phone and repeat that you are not satisfied, and do not want to end the call, the better your chances of getting what you want.

I have my own repertoire of tactics for getting the best from customer service beyond what’s mentioned in the article.

7 Tactics to Ensure Quality Customer Service

1. Do some research before you spend a dime

If you’re traveling, check out reviews of the hotels and airlines in the area. If you’re buying a car, research the car. If you’re buying a gadget, research the gadget. Good reviews usually mean you never have to deal with customer service at all.

2. Have your complaint straight before you even call

I usually write out my complaint before contacting customer service of any kind so that I don’t get flustered on the call. I also usually have the problematic product in front of me if possible so I can clearly and accurately describe the problem. It is very easy to get flustered and discredit yourself during a customer service call if you’re not prepared.

3. Don’t be afraid to be on hold – and use it to your advantage

Whenever I get put on hold on a customer service call, I just set my phone to “speaker,” note the time, and get back to whatever I was doing. When someone finally gets on the line, I usually point out that “I’ve sat on hold for X minutes,” which usually raises some immediate sympathy from the person on the other end.

4. Don’t settle

If you’re unhappy with the resolution, stay on the phone. Tell them you’re unhappy with the resolution and explain what you expect from the situation. Don’t be afraid to escalate the situation to their superior. The longer you stay on the phone, the less cost-effective it becomes to continue to try to give you their half-baked solution and the more cost-effective it becomes for them to just give you what you want as a solution. Of course, part of this is knowing what you expect from the call before you even call.

5. Don’t overuse it

Only call customer service lines when you have a real customer service complaint. Many large companies share databases of people who frequently call customer service lines demanding replacement products. These people are (often correctly) identified as scammers and customer service people will often just terminate the call from such people. If you call such lines only when you have a real complaint, you’ll find much more success.

6. Go public

If you have a concern with a company’s service, take it up with them first. If that doesn’t get you the service you expect, go public. Share your story on as many web sites as possible. Take the time to write your complaint in detail and write it calmly – don’t use angry language or name-calling or you discredit your point. Make sure you provide some way to contact you, and post the complaint on review websites. You’d be surprised how often a company will contact a person who makes such a public complaint.

7. Leverage competition

Many businesses will alter their offers if you bring in offer sheets from competing businesses. If you’re making a major purchase, don’t be afraid to shop around for the lowest price, then take that lowest price offer to a retailer that offers good customer service.

Many of these tactics do take time, so I often don’t use them on inexpensive products. I save them for larger battles where there is real value in prevailing.

Good luck!

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  1. lilacorchid says:

    Also, be NICE. I didn’t create your problem, but I’ll try to fix it for you. And I’ll try a lot harder if you treat me like a human being because the last ten people I talked to were probably jerks. Being reasonable in your request helps too.

  2. Crystal says:

    I’d also suggest patience and friendliness. Even if you feel like reaching through the phone and throttling the person on the other end, you’ll get a better result with friendliness.

    I am not a patient person and I do not handle stress well, but I get the best customer service because I am very friendly and well organized. I can state my problem quickly, explain what I need or would like to make the situation better, and use please and thank you and even smile while I’m talking (they can’t see it, but it somehow is heard…). Even when I need to escalate my problem to a supervisor, I am all “please” and “thank you” with the original reps.

    I come out ahead 90% of the time and have a Crappy Companies and Front-Running Favorites post on my blog for the other 10% (Comcast, Fedex, GM, Chase, and Gentle Dental) and the companies that went above and beyond (ING, Discover, AT&T U-Verse).

  3. praveen says:

    The technique i used when i got very frustrated with one company was I asked them If can record the conversation too. I got the resolution right away.

  4. I agree with Crystal…being nice goes a long ways.

    I like the simple question idea too, though.

  5. Stephan says:

    thats the beauty of the internet, we can now instantly complain to millions of people about bad service. Its great and gives the single consumer a lot more leverage when it comes to dealing with companies. Once a bad review is online,its practically impossible to remove it, and companies know this.

    Preferred Financial Services

  6. JESSU says:

    I work in customer service, answering 1-800 lines, but not a “call center” just a normal office and I can tell you that people call in with those tips expecting that the longer they stay on the better.

    If I were you, I would first take into consideration what company you are calling: calling Discover and calling the manufacturer of your vacuum cleaner require different tactics. This is because smaller companies have less to lose in talking to you, they are less interested in your public complaints (less PR trouble), and more than likely they have less power in meeting your high “demands”.

    And as much you think it’s great to post negative reviews online, the truth is that most of us don’t read those reviews before we buy from those companies. We might check out an amazon review, but do you really go on some consumer complaint site to see how legit the company is if your product is sold in Walmart? I think not.

  7. Jacob says:

    Buy Local!!

  8. shane s says:

    I actually work in technical support, and if you tried these many of these tactics with me, you probably won’t get very far. We def won’t keep you on hold for more than a few minutes, and if we say we’ll call you back, we mean it. No need to stay on hold. Don’t hurt a reps time. They work faster and better for someone who isn’t causing them to miss out on their bonus or raise. And we keep notes of promblematic customers, so you might not get good support the next time you need help. And for good customers (the ones that are calm and don’t try to stay on hold for 20 minutes), we go above and beyond and more reps are willing to help out with the problem. And btw– my company will hang up on you if you’re too much, and don’t think it’s because we offer poor support/customer service. My company is known for their amazing support in their industry.

  9. Des says:

    I would add be a good customer. I worked in a call center and we would bend over backward to make things right with good, loyal customers. The same cannot be said for “bad” customers – people who are unnecessarily rude to phone reps, people who frequently and regularly call in to ask that fees be waived, etc. We keep notes of every interaction, and the next person you call will know what you did before – and they’ll hear it from the previous reps point of view.

  10. Rebecca says:

    To add to your 2nd suggestion, have all your info ready, purchase date, receipt if there is one, upc, model no, etc, also a record of time, date and name of past calls are very helpful for ongoing problems. The more specific the info, the better. And call when you have time, screaming kids or boiling pasta in the background can be very distracting. I make lots of calls that I know will be time consuming during nap time, when I can be on hold for a while if necessary, but have the time to focus on the phone call when I need to.

  11. Mike C says:

    I agree with Crystal, #1. I think it is important to keep in mind that you are mad at the company, not at the person you are talking to. If you get the person on the phone to empathize with you, you will get better attention.

  12. Nicole H. says:

    I’ve worked in a call center for a fortune 500 retail company for several years. I especially agree with number two, ask the associate what they would do in your situation. The associates know what’s going to be the easiest way to navigate through customer service and the company so you will mostly likely get your desired result (unless you are being unreasonable). Don’t assume you know more about the way the company and their customer service works, because you don’t.

    #3 is just rude. People lose their jobs based on metrics. Don’t you think that if you are being reasonable and if it is within an associate’s power to give you what you want, they wouldn’t just give it to you right away and save you the frustration and them their metrics? Be slightly persistent, but ask to speak to a supervisor if no forward progress seems to be made after several minutes. At my company supervisors have greater power than regular associates, and also are not timed on their phone calls.

  13. tentaculistic says:

    You forgot the golden one – if all else (repeat ALL ELSE) fails, write a complaint to Better Business Bureau. That gets very senior attention, and immediate fixes. They want resolution, because people do pay attention to BBB! I have done this once and politely stated my intention to do so once, and both problems were fixed.

    Also, remember to check unknown co’s on BBB (options include by phone or website, not just name) *before* you shell out money.

  14. A_Reader says:

    I am a customer service representative for a large retail manufacturer. The best way to get what you want is to be nice. A thoughtfully written letter to the company usually gets white glove treatment. A thoughtful and considerate phone call gets you the moon. We want to help you and we can, but there are things that make this more difficult.
    Don’t tell me how long you’ve been holding. Or, rather, don’t lie and say you’ve been waiting for an hour when you’ve really been waiting for seven minutes. I already know because there is a timer on your call.
    We have caller ID. We know when you hang up on the guy next to me and then call back and pretend you’re someone else.
    Go ahead and post complaints on the Internet and Nobody cares. Unless the company is fledging and needs to build a good reputation, it only flags you as a hothead and somebody to not be taken seriously the next time you try to contact the company.
    Go ahead and post complaints with the BBB. Unless the business is truly ripping people off, then it won’t make any difference. The FCC, on the other hand, they mean business.
    Don’t threaten a law suit unless you really, really mean it. In that case, then you go straight to the legal department up against our city slicker lawyers, and then, good luck.
    Also, please remember that some of the fixes take time. I know we all want instant gratification. Trust me, I would love to move forward with my life as well. But depending on the industry, this may take some time because we are waiting on other vendors/carriers/companies for information/shipments/people to call us back.

  15. todo es bien says:

    The third suggestion (passive aggressive) would be as likely to hurt you as help you. No need to play games or be passive aggressive. Not all call centers use phone time alone as the only metric, and if you did it where I have worked you most definitely would hurt your chances of getting the resolution you wish if the representative thought you were gaming them. The rest of the suggestions from the article and from Trent all seem useful. If you are nice person (or at least pretend to be a nice person!), and you ask the person what they would do in your situation the chances of you getting an outcome you are happy with increase a lot. I say this having worked with as a point of contact for unsatisfied customers for 2 Fortune 500 companies, a major software vendor, and a few others. hope this helps.

  16. Oh, that’s a great idea about taking pictures of any issues and showing them to the front desk when you check out. If that doesn’t work, you have evidence to send a nice email w/ photos to the corporate office. I’ll definitely remember this one.

  17. Carey says:

    “I usually point out that “I’ve sat on hold for X minutes,” which usually raises some immediate sympathy from the person on the other end.”

    As a former customer service representative, I have to disagree with this one. That immediately puts the rep on the defensive. They do not have control over that, and high hold times are just as stressful for reps as they are for customers. When there are calls in queue, you get call after call after call, sometimes with no “cool down” time between. I’d start off the call with “Wow, you guys are busy today,” and MEAN IT. Don’t say it sarcastically. And that’s if you say it at all – better to start with “How’s it going today?”

  18. Kestra says:

    I also work in a call center type company, though not my job personally.
    Most of the tips I agree with.
    Especially: -be organized, know what resolution you want, be a good customer otherwise, be polite.
    I completely agree with Carey to not mention the wait time. In my experience, if there are long wait times or several calls in queue, supervisors may be calling out to people to pick up the phone. How would you like to be yelled at all day? The quicker you answer calls, the worse you’re able to make good notes in the file and the more mistakes can happen with follow-up or solutions.
    Also, the resolution you want has to be reasonable and within the company’s rules, which the phone person has no control of, and may have just learned yesterday (rules can change frequently).
    Asking them what they would do is a good idea. Never thought of that one myself, but if a client asked it, I would definitely tell them. In my company, emailing the president usually has good results. Also the suggestion about posting on review sites may work. At least it can in my company. But if you want resolution, you must post enough info for the company to know who you are. We can’t respond to anonymous complaints, but have certainly responded to internet reviews.

  19. I think most companies have forgotten how important customer service really is

  20. dee says:

    I always enjoy your writing, but today your points on how to make a call to customer service really made me frustrated. I have worked for two different companies in the USA and it’s my opinion that 90% of the people who called us didn’t have a valid reason to be calling, and when they escalated rudely (because most customers don’t understand that a little politeness goes a long way.) I was more then happy to get my super, or a senior agent who would stone wall then further. For my own sanity, I learned very quickly how to escalate customers who I couldn’t help but wanted to keep me on the phone for more then 900 seconds I was a lot (keep in mind that was the top of the threshold for an average call to fix up to five wireless computers). Because the demands they have are impossible. Like getting a tech out with in an hour to fix slow connectivity. Which normally turned out to be the actual computer being slow.
    Please, please put yourself into the others shoes. Also a rep knows exactly how long they have you on hold, and if they have been kind and warm normally it’s unavoidable to have you there. But if they are rude, short more then likely they are putting you on hold because either they can’t help you and are waiting for you to hang up.

    Like Nicole H said The metrics of the calls do determine everything for a rep.

    Also if you get great customer service, PLEASE either ask for the email to send them a compliment of ask if there is someone you can talk to at the end of the call. You have no idea (unless you are csr) how much this make the person day or even week! On the other hand, you can also ask to speak with a “senior agent or super” to file a complaint. They are taken very seriously.

  21. V says:

    I used to work for a large Credit Card company. And let me point out a lot of these don’t work, for instance the “What would you do in my situation?” question, most of us were asked this many times and my canned answer was “Nothing, because I’ve read the terms of service”.
    Contrary to popular belief it is exceedingly rare that a credit card company makes mistakes. Those finance charges on your bill are there for a reason.
    Also when you ask to speak to a supervisor, you very rarely are transferred to a supervisor. Most of the time you are transferred to a department thats job it is, is to calm you down and get you off the line.

  22. I tried the “put yourself in my position approach” with some people in customer service and a lot of times it fell on deaf ears. Actually, a lot of times it irritated me even more because they came off as sounding even more insensitive.

    So watch out on that one–it could backfire

  23. deRuiter says:

    I like Kestra comment #13’s idea to email the president of the company. I’d also consider writing the president a “real” letter as the novelty of that might get some action. Always be polite, the customer service rep is among the lowest eschelon company employee, but they are on the firing line and the persons likely responsible for your dissatisfaction aren’t the ones answering the phones.

  24. Deborah says:

    I find one of my best weapons is the line “I’m about to get really upset and I know you’re not paid enough to deal with that, so can you please get me a superior?” :D

  25. Jason says:

    These ideas are superb! I am going to reblog it next week. Very good ideas.

  26. reulte says:

    I used to work in reservation call center for an airline company 20 years ago. We received a call from someone who insisted he flew every week and had upteen thousand miles who wanted bulkhead seating on an overbooked flight to Hawaii. He was a rude, bombastic, unmitigated jerk and the bulkheads were already assigned to an elderly couple with mobility problems. He INSISTED that he had priority and that we move one the of couple elsewhere so he could have the seat. He wasn’t the least bit polite at any time during the call and insisted that we never put him on hold, but finally said he would hold when the rep said she would call the couple to see if they would give up their seats.

    I called the elderly couple (two reservations required two people working the computers), stated there was a small problem with their seating reservations and asked if they would mind being upgraded to First Class. Oh, they were pleased and gracious and even mentioned that it was a 2nd honeymoon after a few years of saving money. So I rebooked them into 1st and made ‘2nd honeymoon’ comments in their reservation. Their son even sent a note stating they’d had a wonderful time.

    Then my partner returned to the original caller and told him we had gotten him that bulkhead seat and he was elated . . . until he was told how. The reply to his screech of “I would have gone to first” was “No sir, you insisted on the bulkhead seat. You got the bulkhead seat.”

    Lessons: Be polite. Be prepared to accept something else (equal to what you consider fair restitution). Realize that the rep really would like to help you.

    And, I’m told that reservation agents can’t do this anymore.

  27. Keri says:

    I work in customer service. The most important thing in getting what you want is to be polite. If someone is nice to me, I’ll bend over backwards to help them out. If they’re rude, they’re not getting anything.

  28. Jon says:

    Trent, you seem to have issues with being passive aggressive to get what you want (work, customer service). How about just being nice and talking to someone who can fix a problem if you have it instead of being so childish. I get way more accomplished the nicer I am to people, even people who are trying to screw me over.

  29. Gretchen says:

    You catch more flies with honey then with vinegar.

    Pointing out how long you’ve been on hold is particularly strange- I’m sure their phones have timers!

  30. Jason says:

    I used to be a customer service rep too and I have to disagree with the third suggestion. Often times the rep has done everything they can.

    I once had a guy wait on hold for 2 hours to talk to my supervisor only to hear the same answer I gave him 30 seconds into the call.

    I agree with those who said it’s best to be polite. I always did the absolute minimum I could for rude and vulgar customer’s. But if someone called with a problem and was polite I would go out of my way to make sure they got proper help. Also, we were allowed to hang up if someone got too belligerent.

  31. AnnJo says:

    In my experience, you have a much better chance of getting good service if you have a long and healthy track record with a company – especially financial service companies like banks, brokerage firms, credit card companies. If you usually pay your credit card in full and on time every month, and once every four or five years you blow it, the company may well waive the late fee if you just ask politely. I’ve had that happen two or three times, and I’ve also had my bank agree to drop the monthly service charge on my business account, an appliance company waive the delivery charge on the third appliance ordered, a home improvement/carpet store reduce the bill by 15% because of a measurement problem (theirs), and probably more I can’t think of.

    On the other hand, some companies just have a culture of disdain for their customers and the best thing to do is get away from them as fast as you can. You can’t always know that from the first customer service rep you talk to, so sometimes if I’m getting nowhere, I just say I have to end the call and will have to call back about it later.

    There’s always someone at some level who can solve the problem if motivated. I had a problem with Sallie Mae calling my office over someone stranger’s student loan. After my assistant tried for months without success to get us taken off their DAILY calling list, I spent 15 minutes on the internet, found the name and home address of the head of the division we were dealing with, made my way on the phone up to a supervisor who knew who that person was, and asked if it was necessary to send the director a personal letter at her home detailing the problem, to get some real attention to our problem. That supervisor reported back her progress on solving our problem for three days and we haven’t had a call since.

  32. imelda says:

    “time is on your side for two reasons. ”

    Yeah, I’m skeptical of that, too. While it works, it seems to me that many companies use exactly this same tactic. They know that most people will hang up if you put them on hold for long enough. I have had MULTIPLE instances of being on the phone with Sallie Mae for 1-2 HOURS.

    Also, to all the people talking about “being polite” to the service reps: blah, blah, blah. Heard it a thousand times. How about we look at the other perspective?

    I know there are people who are a**holes on the phone, but I can’t imagine that most people are. That is, unless they have spent 10 minutes getting through an automated system to reach someone, 20 minutes trying to reach the right person, and 20 minutes on the phone with you trying to solve their problem and hearing that nothing can be done (oftentimes only to find out otherwise later on). How about a little sympathy and patience for us, too?

  33. Matt says:

    Another tactic, particularly for dealing with large companies on the phone: if, as the consumer, you’re not getting a satisfactory resolution to the problem, politely end the call and try calling back. You’ll almost certainly get a different person, who may be more willing, able and/or knowledgeable enough to actually help you.

    I’ve found this to work with Comcast in particular. On several occasions, I’ve called them, patiently tried all the relevant tactics presented here, only to waste a lot of time being stonewalled. But I’d say 75% of the time, if I call back and talk to a different person, I can get a quick and helpful resolution.

    (I was originally going to start this comment out with the cynical remark, “All of these tactics are great unless you’re dealing with Comcast, in which case, you’re only hope is luck.” But a second call may just bring you the luck you need!)

  34. Kristina says:

    As someone who previously worked for a large cell phone company, I would have found the following statement rude and demeaning:
    “I’m about to get really upset and I know you’re not paid enough to deal with that, so can you please get me a superior?”
    How much I’m paid to do my job in NO way reflects my ability to actually DO it. I personally would have taken offense to that statement and it probably would have affected my decision to go “above and beyond”. It would make me feel as though you have no faith in my abilites. Most CSRs are actually taught to deny (as politely as possible of course) getting a supervisor, and for good reason. Most of the supervisors are not there to take calls, theyre there to supervise their direct employees. That means that most of them have no clue what theyre doing when they get on the phone. Someone who spends 8 hours a day taking the same kind of requests everyday is going to have a lot more knowledge than someone who does it for 20 minutes every other day. The only real difference in call handling between a supervisor and a representative is probably their ability to adjust/credit limit and their lack of knowledge, but 9/10 if you truly are correct, and its something the CSR cant do, they’ve already gone to their supervisor while you were on hold to make sure you got everything you owed. Believe it or not, most reps do care about what youre calling for. The quicker I fixed it, the better I felt about myself and my abilities. Keep in mind that they dont get a “cut” of the extra money that they get out of you and have no incentive not to right any wrongs. Also, if it IS your mistake, own up to it, we’ll probably help you out, but that doesnt always mean the slate gets wiped clean. If you’ve messed up, isnt something better than nothing? Asking the representative “what would you do in my situation” is really irrelevant and doesnt help you at all as a customer to ask that question. It will only make the representative think of all the ways that whatever happened could have been avoided, and it makes them less likely to empathize with your situation, especially if it was easily avoided. Didnt pay your bill because you moved and didnt update your address and now your phones turned off? Its due the same day every month call or go online to check your balance and ask for a bill reprint before its due. Didnt know you only had $3 in your checking account and now youre overdrawn? Keep a check register, text, visit or call your bank to check your balance. Your daughter used 4500 texts you only pay for her to have 200? Take the phone away, monitor the usage online, call customer service and check the amount used, or block texting. In the end, it just makes you appear careless by asking and makes the representative feel that credits are unjustified. Its almost always as if youre asking someone to point out how you were wrong. Someone who works for a credit card company’s probably never had a late payment since being employed there, and a cell phone company representative’s probably never gone over their minutes. Why? Because they’ve learned that companies charge a lot of fees for not paying attention. And if by chance they did make a mistake, 99% of them arent calling to get credits/adjustments because theyre so used to seeing people who dont feel the need to be accountable that it doesnt feel right to do so. As for hold times, waits and transfers, you can thank your fellow customers for calling in and not listening to the phone promts, trying to “wait out” the representative and expecting more than theyre owed. Also recognize that most of the time your situation is not unique to customer service, just to you. Sure every once in a while something comes up, but a billion people before you have sent the check to the wrong address, forgotten to put the stamp on the envelope, have had a death in the family, had the dog run away, didnt mean to order duplicates, checked the wrong box on the form, didnt read the restrictions or just made undeducated/uninformed decisions and exceptions cant/wont always be made for you, nor should they be. Bottom line is, dont expect to get more than you would HONESTLY give to someone in your position and treat people with respect. It goes a long way.

  35. Jon says:

    In regards to the hotel room, why not bring these problems up as soon as you see the room. The first thing I do when I check in is test everything in the room and look at everything. If it is not satisfactory, I call the front desk to either have it fixed or moved to another room.

  36. Liz says:

    Just a question: anyone ever call or e-mail Customer Service to offer a compliment on products or services?

  37. Jenn says:

    #28 imelda “I know there are people who are a**holes on the phone, but I can’t imagine that most people are.”

    I assume that you can not imagine because you have not worked as a CSR.

    There is never a reason to yell at, berate, belittle, bully, be cruel or mean to another human being. I dont care how long you waited on hold or how much you hate the product or the company they work for.

    Its a person answering the phone. Yes a CSR may appear to have thicker skin or be not human and only seem to you as a bump in the road to talking to a supervisor but they are more than that and no one deserves the treatment a CSR typically gets from most callers.

  38. BonzoGal says:

    @Liz: I have! I wrote a letter to a mineral water company to thank them for using juice instead of sugar in one product, and to a cat food company that made the only food my highly-allergic cat can eat. I thanked them for their unique products, and got back very nice replies. I also wrote a letter to a local store to compliment a clerk who went out of his way to help me.

    I too have done phone customer service, and I disagree with a lot of the folks on here about some of Trent’s techniques. They absolutely would work in an insurance company- the more a person stuck to his/her guns and refused to hang up, the more likely his/her issue would be handled by someone who could make a decision the call center would not be allowed to make.

    I’ve always been polite and friendly when I complain, and it’s had mixed results. With Comcast and Wells Fargo, I got nada. With others (especially hotels) I’ve gotten good results.

    And as a Marketing person at a larger corporation now, we DO pay attention to negative mentions on small websites. We search for those kinds of things and try to fix the problem. Complaints on blogs turn into news stories too quickly!

  39. meg says:

    Having worked in a CS call center I have to say a lot of people really were jerks that called in. I’m sure it depends on who you’re answering calls for, but where I worked it really was the case. My suggestion for dealing with customer service that wasn’t mentioned is not calling at the peak times. Monday mornings for a place closed on the weekends would be one. Lunch time is also bad. If you call when fewer people are calling in then you will be on hold for less time and be dealing with agents who are less burned out.

  40. LynnRG says:

    As a Customer Service rep I’d add a couple of things:
    *Apply the Golden Rule and treat the rep the way you’d like to be treated if the situation were reverse.
    *Remember this person isn’t personally responsible for your problem, but they can and should take responsibility for the resolution.
    *Don’t interrupt the rep and Listen to what they are saying – don’t assume that they are trying to “cheat” you.
    *Never raise your voice or use abusive language. The rep can and should disconnect your call if you become abusive.
    *Always get the name of the person you are speaking to.
    *Don’t be afraid to ask for a supervisor; generally, they have more latitude to resolve problems “outside the box”.

  41. Georgia says:

    I worked in customer service for several months at a Sears store. My boss was impressed with my people skills. I didn’t think they were anything special.

    I worked with a lot of very nasty people and very few of them turned out to be really that way. When we get frustrated, we just want to blow our stack to someone who will listen and consider our problem. So, I did this. When someone came yelling at me, I would stand there and listen all the way through, ask them questions if I needed to verify anything. By then, the customer had mostly calmed down. I would then tell them what I could do to help them or, if I couldn’t, I’d give them the name of someone who could.

    I also worked in a savings and loan for several years (13.5). A VP came to visit our office. While he was there, a very irate customer came in. He was still mad when he left. He told me what I could tell my boss (not nice). I said, okay. The VP looked at me funny. He wanted to know if I couldn’t have thought of something to say besides “okay.” I informed him that he was only the 2nd customer in 10+ years who had been so mad. I was unaccustomed to dealing with people like this. He then informed me that we must be doing something very right in our office, because the home office had that many upset customers every week or two. Of course, they were also a much larger office. But still, it was a great compliment.

  42. Pennsylvania says:

    I guess being a Customer Service Rep I am going to actually give you my point of view … You call in with every intention of ” getting what you want ” That is awesome .. Just remember we have guidelines we have to follow .. they are called policies , which can usually be found on websites and such .. You call in and I place you on hold yes I will thank you for patiently waiting and apologize for the wait as I was gathering all offers I can offer you at this time .. Keeping me on the phone is fine … I get paid by the hour not the call .. You ask for something totally out of reason I will tell you NO .. so will my supervisor .. I do understand you have an issue , complaint , been inconvenienced , whatever the case may be . but remember IF you push I do push back and I will advise you what I CAN do for you and if you find
    this not satisfactory and ask for my Supervisor .. I can guarantee you will be offered the same options and possibly one more .. Remember if I say we cannot offer that I am NOT kidding and getting angry , cussing , yelling , demanding a supv , being down right nasty gets you nothing .. Oh and by the way YES we can hang up on you .. Yell at me and call me name , cuss at me . treat me like poop and I can hang up on you and I have .. Sorry if this sounds mean but now you know the other side of the phone call …
    Thank you

  43. reulte says:

    Liz – #36 Yes. We often received compliment letters; sometimes for going ‘above and beyond’ (as noted in my earlier remark; I received a ‘thank you’ postcard) and other times simply because things went well for the customer. Perhaps it had been a bad day and when the customer called for service they got regular service but compared with the rest of that day seemed extraordinary. Occasionally CSRs in our call center received flowers or chocolate.

  44. mary says:

    There is a website called Planet Feedback that I use to complain or compliment a company I’ve dealt with. The website helps you craft a letter and supposedly sends the letter to the CEo of the company. I have received answers from some,resolution of the problems from others,sometimes even free coupons for their products.

  45. Cassandra says:

    I’ve tried being polite, respectful, etc. You do catch more flies with honey than you do with with vinegar. BUT NOT IF YOU’VE BEEN WRONGED!!!! YOU GET A SUPERVISOR ON THE PHONE, GET AS RUDE AS POSSIBLE, AND DRIVE THEM TO THE POINT THAT THEY’LL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT JUST TO GET RID OF YOU! WORKS EVERY TIME. It doesn’t work with reps, but it will with management, especially large corporations. (I have ordered things where I’ve ended up with the credit on my credit card, as well as the product. (Small dollar amount). They were trying to save their companies reputation. All I wanted was my product in a timely manner, and I got both by taking control, and not letting people walk all over me or rip me off. (Charging my c/c….the product is stuck in the warehouse). IT’S NOT MY FAULT THEY SCREWED UP!!!

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