Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Customer Service Experience?

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intro image   Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Customer Service Experience?Have you ever called customer service, only to end the call frustrated, disappointed and without resolution? Or perhaps there was a resolution, but it was unfavorable and certainly not worth the time you spent on the phone? We’ve actually covered in detail how good the customer service is by some of the major tech companies, like Apple, Amazon and others. But have you ever considered that there are things in your power that you can do to change the outcome of these calls?

In the experiences I’ve had with customer service representatives, I have found there is definitely a line between the right way to do things and the wrong way. This applies both in the approach that you take in communicating with the representative and the tools that you use when contacting the company.

It’s All About Your Approach

I’m going to stray off the topic of “technology” for a bit. Why? Because when dealing with companies, it is crucial that you consider how you communicate with them. This is the backbone of all success in getting what you want and need. Remember that the company wants you to be happy too. Below are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

  • How do you sound to the rep when speaking to them?
  • Do you try to understand where the rep is coming from too?

Notice that these are not complicated questions, but they are important to address.

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Don’t be mad or angry, but do communicate your frustration

frustrated customer   Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Customer Service Experience?

When speaking to a rep you must express that you aren’t angry at them, but you are “frustrated” or concerned with the circumstances at hand. When sharing the reason for calling, give them the whole story, but in doing so be sure not to ramble or ignore the representative if they chime in. Instead, always be considerate as they are the ones who will help you get what you want, which makes you happy and in turn, makes them happy because they’re doing their job correctly. No representative wants to upset you, the customer, because that reflects poorly on them.

Of course, you probably know all of that. But it’s different whenever you’re in the situation, as it’s easy to forget those things. Personally, I enjoy calling customer service as it is an opportunity for me to make their job easy for a change (or at least try to).

An example of doing this (there have been many) was actually a conversation between me and an Amazon rep, Cindi, that took place while writing this article. I ordered a bicycle helmet, which was defective. I had previously called Amazon about the matter and they quickly sent me a return shipping label and ordered a replacement. Thinking I was going to receive the helmet first and then send it, I planned to wait until the helmet arrived. However, it never did. That said, I missed the 7-day time limit for the shipping label to work. So what do I do now? Well, hoping to get another shipping label and find out where the helmet was, I called Amazon again and that is when I spoke to “Cindi.” She was very nice about the whole matter and explained that the helmet was supposed to be delivered 6 days prior to the current day and that it’s in another city. She told me since I’d been so kind and understanding about this, that she’d give me a credit on my account as well (not the first time Amazon has offered this to me). She also emailed me another return shipping label and I told her she could call me back whenever she finds out why the helmet hasn’t arrived yet.

In this phone call Cindi understood my issue and “frustration.” I put frustration in quotes because it wasn’t like I conveyed I was upset, which is often what we think of when the word “frustration” comes to mind. Instead, I simply explained my current circumstances and asked for what I would like to have, which in this case was another return label (which I wasn’t sure I could get) and a status on where the package was.

Be reasonable and speak clearly

Being reasonable is just an extension of everything I just said. Remember to keep the customer service representative in mind. This also includes speaking so that you can be easily understood.

Take a chance and call – you might be impressed what they can do for you

In that call with Amazon, I had no idea if I could get another return shipping label, but I asked. I like the challenge of seeing if I can get what I want. Can I get that fee waived? Or remove that charge that was incorrectly applied to my account? What about a package I received with the incorrect contents? These are just a few of the many reasons you might have to call customer service and all are legitimate reasons. You might be inclined to think that they can’t help you with a specific problem, but does it really hurt to try? Again, companies want you to be a happy customer. And the worst thing that could happen would be that they’d say “no,” but that will probably be a rare occasion, if at all.

Think you know what you can get? Still ask.

On the occasion that you do know what they can do for you, you should still ask in a nice tone. If you don’t, you might come across as arrogant or rude. For instance, if I need a second shipping return label in the future, should I call Amazon and say “I need another shipping return label” without explaining, the why or even asking if it’s possible? No! Absolutely not. It may very well work, but it’s just as easy to be nice and explain the situation. Did you lose the label? Did you just forget? Even if it’s your fault for the reason you’re calling, if you’re open and honest there is a pretty good chance they’ll still honor your request.

Still not getting what you want? Try these.

There might be several reasons why you might not be getting what you want. There might be a lot of background noise on the customer service rep’s end (this recently happened to me). The rep may also not be as educated about the matter, but still trying to help you – this is frustrating whenever they don’t recognize that they can’t help you and you’re still trying to be nice. There are several other reasons. Sometimes you just want to deal with someone else.

Hang up and call again

hang up   Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Customer Service Experience?

Sometimes this method isn’t very desirable if you had to wait on hold for a while, but at times this is all you can do if you aren’t getting a satisfactory solution. Amazon actually will ask to give you another chance and prompt you to call them again if you rate a customer service rep poorly. This is something else you could do. Even if you end the call, you could still call back to talk to a different rep. One thing is that you have more information the second time around and you can use what you learned in the first call to get a better solution to the problem in the second call.

Recently I had a bit of an issue with another Amazon order. I had purchased two of the same items – one as a gift and the other for myself. However I ran into a bit of a glitch and noticed that the gift item, which was being sent to another address, wasn’t getting the free shipping. I called Amazon to see what was going on with this and to keep the story short, the representative changed the address so that both items were now being shipped to my address. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding as the majority of the phone call consisted of a lot of background noise on their end and the rep seemed confused as well. When I called Amazon again to fix the issue, the representative I got couldn’t change the address or cancel the order. So I called Amazon one more time. This time I could tell that the representative who answered seemed a lot more knowledgeable. She canceled the order, instructed me to purchase the item again and then waved the shipping cost. Awesome! This was exactly what I was hoping for. Was it time consuming? Of course. I’d be lying if I said that most customer service inquiries aren’t. But my problem was fixed and I’m still a happy Amazon customer. The point in this story is to tell you that sometimes you may not get what you want the first time or even the second, but you may need to continue to persist.

Ask to talk to their manager or supervisor

Often times there are still things that the “normal” rep can’t help you with. You can always request to speak to their manager or supervisor. We don’t typically think of this as an option, but I have used it from time to time. Once was when my dad’s cell phone wasn’t working properly. The Sprint customer service rep wasn’t really that helpful and I wanted them to send a replacement as the phone was under warranty and the issue was in the software or hardware of the phone and not due to physical damage or my dad’s fault. When I spoke with the supervisor I was not only able to get the replacement phone, but they also helped me understand the policy much better as well – which the representative didn’t do. Again, sometimes it is just the representative and maybe you wouldn’t need to speak with a supervisor, but the option is there and you should know about it should the occasion arise for you to take advantage of it.

Tools And Tips To Use

Aside from things that you personally can do to improve your customer service experience, there are also tools and tips that you can use to help you as well.

Get noticed by the company through social media

social media   Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Customer Service Experience?

Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and potentially even Quora (and others) are great places to connect with companies. Tumblr has an “Ask” feature that benefits both you and the company as they can reply to your question publicly (which you do have the option of asking anonymously) benefiting the company’s other followers/customers as well. Facebook has an option to message the company privately. Although usually the social media manager doesn’t always have the answer, they can often point you in the right direction. Twitter is excellent if the company utilizes it properly, which some do very well. Zappos is one of my favorite examples of a company that uses social media, specifically Twitter, so well.

Consider email, instant message (chat), or even forums

Email and maybe chat are probably used a bit more by the general public for customer service. However, emailing is often faster if the company utilizes it correctly. If not, it might be days before you get a response. This is the part that is out of your control that you can’t worry about. In fact, I’m currently still waiting on a reply from a company which I emailed. My next step? Twitter. But I just simply haven’t had the time to mention to them about their lack of response.

Instant messaging is another great way – and if there are reps available to answer, it is sometimes the best. Depending on the issue or question I have, I think chat is great. However, if available the phone is always superior.

Forums can be very beneficial as they provide customer service not only from the company itself, but also from the users and customers who share the same common interest. A perfect example of this would be the wireless phone company. Republic Wireless, who embraced forums as their primary form of customer service. They also use email and social media to communicate with customers, but the forums are the most beneficial route in receiving the most accurate and quickest response.

republic wireless forums   Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Customer Service Experience?

Be the most efficient with GetHuman and LucyPhone

If you haven’t heard of these two already, you are really going to be amazed. I’ve mentioned them previously in an article about some useful websites to aid you in your daily routine.

Here is a clip from that article:

GetHuman takes customer service a step further. The phone number provided is ranked by users and displays information such as the average wait time. I’m also very impressed by two additional features that GetHuman offers. They’ve teamed up with LucyPhone and integrated their “Let Us Call You” technology directly into the GetHuman website allowing you to have the company call you with a click of the button. Or if you prefer to make the call, you can save your minutes with the option to call right from their website.

Gethuman   Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Customer Service Experience?

Basically these two services help you find the best number, email and/or chat option there is and if there isn’t one or you know a better one, you can add it to be reviewed.

Gather everything together before the call

Before you make the call, make sure you have everything you need. If it’s an order for an item, know the item’s name (sounds silly, I know, but you might be surprised at how many don’t) and order number as well as any other information you think is relevant. If I have several questions, I’ve found it helpful to jot them down on a piece of paper, in a note-taking program such as Evernote, or even several easy to use websites.

Conclusion

To recap, be friendly, be prepared, be friendly, be persistent and… be friendly. That is really the key to having a great experience. Will it always yield perfect results? No, it won’t. However, by combining it along with several of the other tactics such as using the best number, being persistent in contacting the company through various mediums and/or people, and doing your best to make their job as easy as it can be, I guarantee you will have more success.

Do you have a positive customer service story? What do you think you did that made it result in a better outcome rather than a poor one?

Image Credit: Business man climbs up customer service form via ShutterstockTelephone argument via ShutterstockSocial media communication via Shutterstock |Hanging up via Shutterstock

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11 Comments - Write a Comment

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Anonymous

Most of times I find searching Google a better way than going to support agent of my provider. thousands of forums are there and hundreds of people may have already faced the problem I face today. So I hardly ever go to customer service page

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Google helps a lot, and many customer service staff might have less frustration if only the customers try to help themselves first. I’ve seen a lot of cases where customer places a ticket on something that is answered in the FAQ or similar pages.

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P R

Good article. I like the first section a lot (the one on using a positive tone). I always try to be as polite and understanding of their position as possible. Remember, customer service is NOT a courtroom with mandatory sentencing restrictions. These people have a LOT of leeway in what they will do for you. Given that, there are times when I knew that I was wrong (a late credit card payment, for example), but I politely called their customer service, and asked if there was any way the late fee/interest penalty could be lifted. The guy said something like “We see you have 84 consecutive months of on-time payments” or some such thing, and agreed to lift the interest charge.I didn’t waste time with a 15-minute-long story of having to visit my sick grandmother; I simply told them I put my envelope under my car seat and forgot about it. 5 seconds is all it took to give them my story.

I know you mentioned phoning first. I always phone when I need customer service–its going to make your need/concern more personal to them (than replying to a post in a forum).

One other point—perhaps point zero (before all the others), is a rule I never violate: never buy again from companies that give crappy customer service, and when companies do provide good service, seek them out in the future. IMNSHO this dramatically improves your chances of successfully resolving customer service problems that may arise in the future.

For example, when I bought my first laptop 6 years ago, I bought a Targus carrying case. I loved it; after a year it developed a rip on the inside. I emailed them and asked for something–a patch of some kind that could easily be attached to the torn section. They emailed me back and said the entire bag was still under warranty, and they went ahead and replaced the unit with a slightly better one. You better believe the next laptop case I have to buy (for myself or one of my kids) is gonna be a Targus.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Good point. By keep buying from companies with crappy CS, then we’re basically endorsing them to NOT fixing their system. Unfortunately there are also cases where a company’s CS quality degrades as time flows…

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Debbie Miles

JUst remember when you are calling customer care, you are getting someone who would like to help you and when they ask questions that seem off the topic they are likely required to. Like your name and number is likely to create or pull up an account to create a paper trail. This must be done without missing a beat and still paying 110% to the customer. They are not unattentive, they are fulfilling goals that if met, will be expected to be exceeded in a month or two. I personally take the survey and give them a phone number for their sales calls that may come. When they tell you a supervisor will not make an exception, you can bet they are a third party vendor and not only is the rep right, but that rep will likely be shunned so to speak, not be given their preferred shifts or bonuses or not be allowed to park in free parking in the hopes that they quit so filing an unemployment claim will not be a factor. What do expect for a buck or so under the minimum self supporting wage? The theory is to keep ‘em hungry and hire new as they disappear. The days of throwing a tantrum or threatening to cancel are long gone. My advice is to approach as in here is a problem, and how can we make this right? If the phone call fails, maybe it’s time to go up the ladder via snail or email and you have a better chance of getting something other than the call center response or you might get a form letter that says “Unfortunately…….”

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Junil Maharjan

not only tech companies but most companies have bad rep for customer service. it always gets hard to talk to a human being and whenever you do talk to them, it is hard to get help. But there were times when i got good help too.

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Lisa Santika Onggrid

I’ve had fairly good experiences with customer service. Most of the companies I emailed answer politely and willing to help. Even when they misunderstood my intention and the email exchange went longer than I predicted, it was all happy at the end. Key word being ‘polite’. You should start politely yourself if you expect them to help you. Tantrum will not help except making you look like a toddler.
In term of support, however, Facebook is the worst offender. I don’t have the slightest idea to reach real human and the email support is simply frustrating, always sending back canned email with unhelpful links.

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Rajaa Chowdhury

Except for Vodafone, all telecom service customer service call-centers are horrendous in India. They do not listen to the customer and doesn’t possess common sense. Vodafone service is moderately better.

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Ogz

Thank you for this useful article. I totally agree with you especially on this being friendly. Recently I have been searching for importing a mobile phone from abroad, and after some searching, eventually I communicated with a rep. I did ask him a lot of question, and he helped me very kindly.If you be kind, they really enjoy helping you and making you happy.

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Roxie

I am a customer service rep for a rebate company and I found that many customers are very rude, too talkative, entitled, and lazy. I know that comes off strong but it is very difficult to deal with great customers and remember them when we get those kind of customers. The best bet is not to tell your story first but to ask the question. Not tell your story then ask the question last but just ask the question. We can then get the information we need from you and continue from there. Let us ask you the questions and take control of the situation. When we need your story, we will ask you for it. Most of the time customer’s want to tell everything b/c they think it will be useful- the only thing useful is what we ask you for. Also, we could do without your “that’s a long time” comment as we can’t change policy and your other side comments…I just find myself wanting to attack back with “well if you didn’t…it wouldn’t be THAT long.” If you do leave a good impression and show you will meet the rep half way, I would be more than happy to do extra things for you too.

Aaron Couch

Roxie,

Great insight! Thank you for sharing this. I’ll be honest, I probably share my story too much. I’m a talker and that’s something I need to work with.

I will say, however, that I’ve had some customer service reps that simply don’t listen and I end up repeating myself several times. That said, I imagine that a customer service rep has a pretty difficult job.

I personally try to do my best in making their job as easy AND enjoyable as possible.

Thanks again for your awesome comment and insight!

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