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Working With Customer Service


As the customer, you can create a great customer service experience.  I’m dedicated to doing this every time I can and have actually just hung up the phone after another winning experience.  When I tell my friends about my success they ask me how I do it.  They are after my secret, so here it is.  First let’s be clear most corporations do not set up customer service for your benefit; they set it up for their benefit.  It’s important to keep this in mind as you cross into the domain of the customer service representative (CSR).  There are two simple steps to my secret:

  1. When you engage a CSR, you must be in complete control of your emotions.  Expressing your anger with a customer service representative will get you nowhere.
  2. Know what you want before you call. This is the underpinning to getting satisfaction.

Over the years, using these simple techniques, I have recovered hundreds of  dollars and obtained services and products I needed based on terms that were advantageous to me.  My motto in the world of customer service is “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

Below is an example of how this might work for you.   Recently I had a cable modem installed.  The installation went fine; however, a week later when the cable was finally buried I found myself without service to two of the phone lines at my home.  Since I do business from home, this posed a real problem for me.  I called the repair service to report the problem, and I was informed the repair work would be completed within six days.  Since this would present a real difficulty for me, I decided to call the company’s customer service center.  I explained my difficulty to their representative who told me that because of their extensive workload they could not guarantee anyone coming out earlier than six days.  Well, as you can imagine, this was a major inconvenience.  I called because I needed service as soon as possible.  My approach with the CSR was to engage the representative in a respectful, calm manner.  Ultimately I reviewed my request with the CSR three times.  After the third attempt, when there was no movement to assist me and resolve the problem, I asked to speak to a supervisor, thanking the rep for her initial service but informing her that I had to move further up the line.  When advised that there were no supervisors available, I informed the rep that I knew there was a hierarchy in place and that I would like to speak to someone in authority.  At that time, the customer service representative asked me why I wanted to do that.  I calmly explained that waiting six days for service was out of the question, and that I was escalating my difficulty to get some sort of priority placed on the repair.  She then informed me that she was indeed putting a priority on my request for which I thanked her sincerely.  She indicated that I should expect a call from repair to give me an approximate time for the work to be done.  I thanked her, hung up the phone and put a reminder to myself to follow up in six hours.  Within three hours I received a call from repair telling me that my problem would be handled by the end of the day.

My initial goal was to move the repair from six days to no more than 2 days and, hopefully, one day.  Because I kept on talking and encouraging the service representative, I literally got it done in a day.  My experience tells me that if I was rude, or hostile, I would not have received the service that I did.  The reason is simple – the CSR was going to go by their standard operating procedure.  They did not have to escalate my problem.  However, by treating the CSR with respect and patience, and constantly moving the issue forward, I improved the service I received.

You want better customer service, then remember civility, being pleasant and knowing what you really want (within reason) to get greater rewards and fantastic customer service.

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