Sunday, November 24, 2013

10 Simple rules for getting a resolution from Customer Service

Greetings Monetary Minions!

We are deep in the thick of November; right at the doorstep of the frivolous spending frenzy that is the holiday shopping season. Chances are you are going to be giving or receiving some 74th edition of gadget when the 75th edition came out only a week later. Or a 100 piece play set that somehow seems to only have 99 pieces…the missing part essential to holding the whole thing together. Or an appliance that you just know is broken even though you didn’t even begin to read the instruction manual on how to turn it on. One way or another you’re going to need help. In some shape or form you’re going to end up playing the customer service game.

Now I know…you HATE dealing with customer service, right? They don’t care….they don’t know anything…they’re just out to take my money…blah-zay blah-zay blah! I will readily admit that there are tons of cases where this holds true. However, as a frustrated customer service rep, I have to tell you that we are not (always) the problem. Much of the consumer heartache and pain comes from the consumers themselves by trying to buck the system and make mountains out of mole hills. It’s always believed that the customer is always right. I hold a different standard: THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT…EXCEPT WHEN THEY’RE WRONG. But fear not friends, consider this post to be the machete you need to get through the customer service jungle.

1.       Don’t be an ass.

You win more flies with honey. We understand you’re upset. We understand something ain’t right. But calling in to curse people out doesn’t make us motivated to help you more. If anything you could be flagged as an abusive customer and no one will deal with you. We put these things in your account notes, you know.


2.       DON’T BE AN ASS.

It bears repeating. After our mandatory greeting we will ask you what the problem is. What you say next is going to set the tone for the entire call. If you go into the conversation with a condescending or snippy rude attitude we will go into defense mode automatically. It doesn’t mean we won’t help you…but the apprehension will be unnecessarily high, which is something you especially don’t want if you want to have some exceptions made for you.


3.       Don’t just push zero to get to a “live person”.

The phone tree is there to make sure that you get the correct person to assist you with your problem. I can’t tell you how many times a customer explains to me that they have an Internet problem and get mad at me for being a cable rep and have to get put back on hold to talk to Internet. I didn’t push that button…you did.


4.       If I tell you I can’t do something for you it’s not because I don’t want to…it’s because I CAN’T!

You can’t blame McDonald’s for poor customer service if you ask them for a taco and they don’t give you one. I once had a customer who wanted to escalate to my supervisor because I couldn’t reset her user name and password and she just couldn’t believe that I refused!! I fix cable…that’s it! Not only that, she didn’t even have Internet service.


5.       You don’t always need a supervisor.

In my experience the actual need for supervisor intervention is quite rare. People think asking for a rep’s supervisor is like tattling to their parents…but when you come on the line and demand to speak to one it can delay your resolution. I don’t know about other call centers, but if their supervisors are anything like mine they are going to go through hell or high water to avoid taking that call anyway. And when they DO take a call most of the time they only end up rehashing the same information the rep gave them.


6.       Don’t bog us down with unnecessary information.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not heartless bastards. It’s just that we have metrics to meet. If it’s a slow day we don’t mind making small talk. But on a day when we have calls coming in every 2 seconds we would much rather help you with your issue than to hear about your cat named Capt. Fuzz Cheeks.


7.       Make sure you have everything you need before you dial.

Again time is of the essence. Many agencies have it in their policy to tell the customer to call back if they don’t have all their stuff together or if the customer places the agent on hold for a certain length of time. I know that this seems unfair, especially if you were on hold for a long time. But look at it this way: You’re probably on hold because the person before you had to go get their info. Also…and this is crucial for any subscription service…make sure your bill is current.


8.       Have a heart.

Many call centers are open 24X7X365. We want to be able to spend time with our families on weekends or holidays but our jobs dictate that it can’t always happen. Getting yelled at because you can’t admit that you got in over your head by buying Little Timmy’s bike unassembled should not be the highlight of someone’s Christmas.


9.       If I’m asking you to do something…just do it.

I understand that there are some people who are complete technophobes and would rather have other people just deal with the problem. But there are people who shy away from doing the most simple tasks. The conversation usually goes like this.

 Me: Push the power button please.

You: Which one it the power button?

Me: The one that says power.

You: This is too hard! Can’t you just send a technician?

Me: It doesn’t require a tech. The box is just off. Turn it on.

You: HOW?

Me: Push the red button.

You: I don’t know how to do that. When’s the soonest you can have someone out?


I feel like Chris Tucker in Rush Hour; “PUSH THE GODDAMN BUTTON!!” It’s even worse if you’re the person that lies about doing something. I love those conversations because I often end up fixing their problem against their will and you can just hear the pride swallowing on the other end.

10.   Be reasonable.

It really grinds my gears when people have a false sense of entitlement. It’s understandable to want to be reimbursed for things you pay for that you aren’t able to use for their intended (keyword: intended) purposes. It’s also understandable to want to pay a fair price or lower for your goods and services. But when you get greedy you get rejected. An agent who is actually doing their job will not give you a refund just because you yell and scream. An agent that does makes it 10 times harder for everyone…including you! You worry about your rates getting raised when in actuality the company is sharing its business costs with you because no one wants to pay retail rates. And the ones that demand a month’s worth of credit on a 15 minute service outage are almost always the ones that demand a Dom Perrigon level of service on a Pabst Blue Ribbon payment plan.
Feel free to add anything you think I may have left out.

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