I have a super power.
It’s honestly not all that exciting. We’re
not talking flight or magnetism here. (Or weather control
.) But it is useful.
I can get customer service people to
give me what I want.
This is a super power that is, in fact,
sharable – so here goes.
First, realize something: most of the
time, the person on the other end of the phone call is a person. Treating them as such is the first step. Yes, they may
be representing GiaInsuraElectroCompuCorp, but they are doing this to put a
roof over their head and purchase food, not because they have a thrilling love
of the company that purchases their time.
You, as the customer, are not angry with
You are angry with GiaInsuraElectroCompuCorp.
Stress this. It’s always the second
thing out of my mouth (we’ll get to the first in a sec): “You didn’t do it, I’m
not fussing at you, please forgive me if I’m short or exasperated, it’s just
that this is SO FRUSTRATING! And it doesn’t help that this is NOT the first
time I’ve had to call you guys about this.”
That last bit is crucial. There is only
one possible substitution for this: “This thing is brand new!” Saying either
thing raises red flags in the head of any customer service representative that
they have been trained to address – just ups the urgency level, so to speak.
The actual “first thing” I say is: “I’m
sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
Nevermind whether or not I heard their
name – I want to do two things off the bat. First, get them off of the script,
take the ball out of their hands for a second, make them view this as
not-just-another-call. Second, impress upon them that I actually give a damn
what their name is. I usually write it down so that I can keep calling them by
their name throughout the process. Again: they’re people. If you treat them as
such, they’re automatically inclined to treat you better.
Once we’ve passed these two points, the
rest of it is fairly simple: tell them what’s wrong in calm, reasonable tones;
refer to them by name frequently, but not enough to be creepy; do not hang up until you get some version of
what you want. Believe it or not, you can accomplish the last part without
getting angry – just force yourself to smile and, as you keep asking for the
same thing in ten different ways, repeat the words “pleasant persistence” in
But the moment you yell at them, you
lose. It’s over. They’re not on your side any more. They’re certainly not on
the side of GiaInsuraElectroCompuCorp, because let’s face it – anybody working
the phones at GiaInsuraElectroCompuCorp hates GiaInsuraElectroCompuCorp more
than you do. (Most of the time, they’re not even hired directly by GiaInsuraElectroCompuCorp
– they’re hired by third party call-center specialists who deliberately create
massive turnover in order to keep salary costs down.) But if you yell at this
person – no matter how stupid or stubborn you think they’re being – you’ve
turned it from “us against GiaInsuraElectroCompuCorp” into “you against me.”
Don’t do that. It will not work.
Another thing that doesn’t really work –
asking to talk to the manager. It might work in, say, 2% of the cases where the
original rep can’t help you out, but usually you’ll just sit on hold for about
half an hour to be told the exact same thing by somebody whose voice may or may
not sound suspiciously like the first person to whom you spoke.
If my experience is any indication, this
is because “your manager” at a call center is usually concerned with one thing
only: not taking any customer calls. They’ve worked hard since they started six
weeks ago to become managers specifically so that they can avoid talking to
customers, thank you very much. I know people seem to think that “your manager”
has some sort of magical powers (akin to how “The Back” of any retail store
must invariably be a cornucopia of riches
zealously guarded by greedy retail
workers), but they really don’t. Set some more reasonable expectations for your
call and go from there.
It’s really not rocket science, I know. It
all boils down to separating the person on the phone away from the company for
which they work. But if you can convince your brain – and, more importantly,
your mouth – to do this, then the secrets of customer service whispering shall