Getting What You Want – When there is a Problem

Our friend Kelly is back this week with a little Thanksgiving cheer:

Given the time of year and the frustration many of us have experienced when calling a company for help I thought I would offer up some tips to help you navigate your way through any phone call to any company for any customer service issue.

My background: I’ve spent years of my life in retail for such companies as Eddie Bauer, the Limited Corporation, several upscale small boutiques in various ski resorts, years of call center hell for The Nautilus Group, Client Service for Dunn and Bradstreet, and for the past 5 years CorkSport.

First: Catch your breath and determine what you want to get out of the call before you dial. We would all like everything for free and magically fixed yesterday, but most likely the person you get on the other end of the phone does not have the power to make it so. If you keep your request reasonable you are more likely to be successful and limit your time on the phone.

Golden Rule! I can’t tell you how important this is. If you treat people kindly and respectfully you are far more likely to get what you expected or even more. Trust me, many people don’t remember to be kind and the JERKS of the world may get satisfaction, but they also generally end up as the water cooler gossip, their files get flagged and generally will be treated poorly every time they call. They are also forced to make multiple phone calls, and will get hung-up at least once by someone who has had enough crap from people who are rude and disrespectful. Be polite! Your Mama was right. Manners will take you far, plus its just common courtesy.

Smile and remain calm, if you’re calm and realistic the process will go much easier for both parties. Once again if you’re nasty, you will get treated accordingly.

Use the person’s name. People like to hear their name. It’s one of those things that signify that the other person is listening and willing to have open communication.

Never make the person on the other end of the phone feel like they are personally responsible for screwing you over and wrecking your day. The representative answering the phone most likely had little to do with your purchase. Also, with big multi-national corporations you may encounter a call center representative who’s from another country, so they won’t have a clue about your local Best Buy or who that a-hole sales guy you dealt with is. They are their to help clean-up the mess and try to turn around your experience.

So remember this holiday season and beyond, be nice and good things will come your way.

I’ll try hard to follow my own advice and feel free to contact me if we’ve failed to meet your expectations.

– Kelly

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