I can’t even count how many times someone has assumed that because I work at Better Business Bureau, I get VIP treatment from customer service representatives. The truth is that I do tend to get what I want from companies, but I never have to wield the BBB name to do it. I have a few other tricks up my sleeve, which I will now share with you.
The first rule is to be nice. Take a breath, take a few moments to meditate, or do whatever else calms you down before you call or walk into a customer service department. Having seen the exchange from both sides of the isle, I can tell you that the calm, rational and even sweet patron gets a lot further than someone who is yelling, cursing and making threats.
But don’t just trust me, researchers at Santa Clara University in California found that you are more likely to get a positive response to your request if the person you’re talking to likes you. When the customer service representative does something well or is responsive to your complaint, throw in a compliment and offer to write a glowing review to a supervisor. The agent will be more inclined to help.
Also remember to use threats sparingly and effectively. Most companies love loyal customers and are often willing to go the extra mile to keep one. However, if your first comment is that you are never doing business with this company again, the representative has no incentive to help you.
Instead, highlight the reasons you are a good customer and hint broadly that you may take your business elsewhere in the future. Then, give a specific solution to your problem. “What are you going to do about this?” is far less effective than “I would like a full refund.” You may not get what you ask for, but the representative may propose a satisfactory solution.
If you can’t work something out with the first representative you talk to, move up the chain and follow the same advice as before. If the company has a Facebook or Twitter account, try posting your complaint there. Many companies have representatives that do nothing but monitor social media.
Sometimes simply calling back and speaking to a different representative can help. Other times, you have to call or write a letter to the CEO’s office before you get a good answer. The key is to keep trying until you get what you want, keeping your professional demeanor and polite tone the entire way. With each step, explain your problem, your proposed solution and describe any previous means you have tried to remedy the situation. When you give up, the company wins.
And, of course, if you feel like you have exhausted your own resources, turn to the professionals. File a complaint with BBB or contact the consumer protection arm of the Texas Attorney General’s office.
What are your tricks for dealing with customer service reps?