How to get great customer service, anywhere.

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Dealing with corporate customer service departments is often one of the most frustrating experiences of modern life, and many of us have horror stories of futile attempts to resolve a simple issue amid a minefield of unhelpful automated phone trees and uncaring representatives. By following a few easy steps, however, we can make sure our problem is solved easily and effectively, no matter the company we are calling.

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1. Think about what you want, and do your homework.

Calling up customer service with only a vague idea of what you need is a sure-fire way to wind up confused, frustrated and unable to fix your problem. Before you call, sit down and write what you want out of the conversation. Take a minute to search online for information on your problem and possible fixes – you are unlikely to be the first person ever to experience this issue and it may be possible to bypass the customer service call altogether!

Once you have done a little research, and assuming that the magic of the internet couldn’t fix it, it’s time to call the company. Again, spend a minute researching the available numbers and departments – knowing which department to call will save you far more time than it took to look the information up.

2. Gather everything you need before calling.

You are likely to need the model of the product you are having trouble with, and possibly a customer number, reference, or other information. If you have these, it would be useful to have them to hand before calling to make the call as quick as possible – a piece of paper and a pen or pencil is also recommended (you’ll definitely need them).

3. Get through to a real person.

Automated phone trees are used by companies to cut the cost of customer service, and they are easily the least helpful invention in human history. They almost never have the conversational option you need, and will undoubtedly try to prevent you from reaching a real human. Luckily, they can be circumvented.
If the robot presents you with any variant on ‘other options’, select this option – it will usually lead to a human operator. “Technical support” will also usually lead to a real person. If you are not offered this option, pressing ‘0’ will take you to a customer service operative. On voice-activated systems, saying ‘customer service’ should accomplish the same thing.

If this fails, websites like Gethuman or Dialhuman specialise in providing numbers for company lines that lead to a real operative, and which may not be easily available to the public.

4. Be prepared to take notes.

If you can do so legally, record the call, or else take notes of the conversation. Having a transcript of what you said, what you were offered and what the outcome of the conversation was can be invaluable in future dealings with the department, should you need to call again.

5. Get the name and details of the customer service staff.

Along the same lines as recording the call, this tactic is aimed largely at making potential future calls easier, but also has the present bonus of singling out the agent speaking to you individually, encouraging them to provide the best available service.

6. Be polite but persistent.

Smile before beginning to speak, as it will help dispel frustration and make you sound more amiable. Try to use language which makes it clear that you don’t hold the agent responsible for the company’s mistake – referring to the company as ‘they’ while referencing yourself and the customer support staff as ‘we’, a subtle distinction that places you on the same team as the agent and makes them much more likely to go the extra mile for you.
Never threaten, cajole or insult the customer service agent on the other end of the line.

7. Be concise.

There’s no need to tell the customer service agent your life story when describing your problem. Many trivial details concerning your issue may seem important, but ultimately they only clog up your request and the mind of your agent. Try to keep fluffy details to a minimum.

8. Escalate to supervisors if necessary.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a supervisor – sometimes they are the only people with the knowledge and authority to solve your problem, and they may be able to direct you to other departments that the first-line responder can’t.

9. Don’t be afraid to go public.

If you can’t get a result from calls, try posting to the company’s webpage or tweeting at them with your issue. Don’t be aggressive with your compliant, just be honest and explain the problem. Where an issue is in the public sphere like this, the company will often make an attempt to control negative publicity, so you should get a rapid response. You only have to look at [Pizza Hut’s recent mishap for proof of this.] – Link to http://www.customerserviceguru.co.uk/articles/frustrated-customer-embarrassed-pizza-hut-twitter-terrible-service/

Try to avoid being drawn into a private conversation – the constant pressure of public scrutiny will help to ensure your issue is appropriately dealt with and not just swept under the rug.

10. If all else fails, call Executive Customer Service.

This is where the earlier records of your experiences with tier-one customer services and their supervisors will become invaluable. When you call through to executive customer service, you are contacting a much more powerful company rep than the people you dealt with before, so you have to have the record of previous attempts to solve your problem to hand, or risk being told to go back to tier one.

If, however, you are able to say that you already tried to solve your problem through the usual channels, the executive customer service team will focus on solving your problem to retain your custom.

Bear in mind, though, that they are a last resort – don’t make them your first port of call, they exist to solve the problems ordinary customer service can’t, and will bump you down to the lower tiers of support if you haven’t already been there and tried that. Their time is precious, so be certain you need them before you call them.

These have all saved me time and stress in the past, but you’re bound to have your own methods and tips based on your

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Author: Dan Goss

Dan Goss is a writer, researcher and publisher for customerserviceguru.co.uk and Who Doesn’t Love Sharks? He likes coffee and sarcasm and dislikes that a day has only 24 hours in it.

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