Have you ever thought how you can get the best customer service as a customer? Communicating with support centres can be the utmost frustrating thing to do.
This is especially true when you are having an emergency or dealing with the disappointment of your failed purchase. The experience with customer representatives can be painstaking. Some companies would even make it hard for its customers to find a way to contact them — no contact details provided on the receipt, invoice, or even official website.
Even when you are able to find their contact details, you will most probably end up dealing with an automated machine — recorded responses. Let’s face it, most autoresponders are incapable of handling our issues the way customers want it to be. Plus, personalization is key to great customer service while retaining customers and improve brand name. In reality, it is unfortunate that many companies fail at understanding this logic.
After getting through the autoresponders, you are most likely to be on hold for another 30 minutes before you reach an actual human customer service representative. Oh, that waiting! By that time, you either feel even more frustrated, angry or simply defeated. Most people would be the former than the latter.
I used to work in a financial institution where I have dealt with customers on the phone and through emails. Prior to my work experience, I am just like every one of you — I am a consumer; I am a customer. So, I can totally understand the torment that both parties face whether it is the one calling or the one on the receiving end.
Here are some 5 easy ways for you to receive the best customer service experience:
1. Do your own research and homework before calling
Find out what exactly is the issue and list down answers to possible questions that the representative may ask you. If you are calling a bank, may sure you have all your security details available to you.
For example, account number, customer PIN, and ticket number if you have previously called.
If you are calling for a failed item, be ready with your item’s model number, invoice/receipt number, date of purchase, and warranty number.
In addition, it is also recommended to have a pen or paper ready with you. If you have a laptop ready or a mobile phone for you to take down the content of the call using apps like Google Docs or Evernote, it would be best. Chances are that you will have to take down some vital information such as a direct number to callback next time or a ticket number. Heck — record the call if you can. Call recordings can come in handy when dealing with difficult or bad service.
Simplify the issue at hand and know what you want from the representative as a realistic resolution. This is also where you can write down all the information on the app or paper you have before calling the company. Being ready can help shorten the length of the call and increase the rate of resolution.
Additionally, ask for the representative’s name and take note of it. It can come in handy especially when you are promised certain resolutions.
2. Ignore the phone tree’s options and speak to a real customer service representative
Did you know that there are sites that help provide instructions on how to get through to any given company other than using Google? Google is extremely helpful yet, it can take forever for you to look for the right contact if you do not have much experience in online researching.
If you are dealing with an American company or a company located in America, sites like GetHuman or ContactHelp help customers to get information on how to get through to a real customer service representative. Key in the name of the company that you are calling in the search bar to view user-submitted options. These options usually come with an estimated average time of reaching a real person.
If you are unable to obtain information from such sites due to being in a different location, Google is definitely your best friend. More often than ever, you will only be able to find a general call line where an autoresponder will welcome you with its beautifully recorded but cold voice.
Simply by listening to the whole recording and pay attention to the term “for other options, please press…”, you will usually be able to speak to a real customer service representative. There are also chances that you may get through to the actual human-line by pressing zero (0) or the pound sign (#) on your keypad. Some other companies’ autoresponder will put you through their representatives when the system is unable to recognize random numbers that you have keyed. Other ways may include saying “agent” or “representative” while you are greeted by the recorded voice.
3. Stay calm and polite
Remember that customer service representatives are humans too. Treat them with kindness and you will receive kindness in return — most of the time.
It is human nature to do better when motivated and when appreciation is shown. Yes, there is no doubt that it is the representatives’ job to resolve the problems for you. However, as a fellow human being, is it too much to be kind to another human? Food for thought.
Customer service representatives do not just deal with one customer a day. They too have issues in their lives and may be going through a bad day. At the end of the day, we are all humans. Just by asking them “how are you doing?” in an endearing voice, you easily disarm them and make their day better. These representatives will appreciate your call and be more willing to resolve your issues as soon as possible.
Personal experience where the call was resolved within the first 2 minutes of my call to the bank:
Joyce (Representative): Good morning. My name is Joyce. Thank you for providing your card number, Miss Sabrina. How can I assist you today?
Me: Hey Joyce. How are you doing?
Joyce: I’m doing good. How about you?
Me: Not too bad I guess. Just a little vexed that my card was declined while I was at the restaurant. I believe your system has detected a possible fraud on my account. Can you please help me check why my transactions were stopped and if you can remove the fraud trigger for me?
Joyce: You are right. The system indeed declined your transaction due to a possible fraud concern. May I have your customer verification password before we proceed, please?
Me: Yes sure. It is xxxx. Do you need further verifications? I am all ready for your interrogations! (laugh)
Joyce: (laugh) You are all good. Can I check with you if there are any unrecognized transactions on your account by going through the last 5 transactions on the card?
Me: Oh, no worries. I immediately logged in and check my online statement. Every transaction billed in December was made by me personally. I know it looks dodgy but Christmas is not a cheap season and I am in Thailand for the next 3 months till… possibly the first week of March. Getting poorer by the day!
Joyce: (laugh) Oh wow… Indeed, I am feeling the same pain too. Anyway, I have removed the fraud trigger from your account. Additionally, I have put a note on your account that you will be in Thailand for the next 3 months to reduce the triggers. You can proceed to put through more transactions now.
Me: Great! I was about to ask if you can help ensure that my transactions will not be interrupted again. Thank you so much for being so pro-active and helpful. You are a star! Hubba hubba!
Joyce: (laugh) You are most welcome. It has been a pleasure speaking to you. Have a great time in Thailand!
Me: I hope you have a great day ahead today too. Continue being the champ that you are!
Build rapport and be nice to make your own day better!
4. Be persistent by reminding your value as a customer but still remain polite
This is important if you have been told that the issue cannot be resolved and you a return customer or a customer who has been with the company for a certain long amount of time. By politely advising that your value as a customer to the representative, you are indeed putting in a little more pressure for them to resolve your issue quicker.
However, bear in mind to remain polite and calm while making a reminder.
A good example is as below:
Customer: Oh.. I have been your customer for 5 years now. I am really disappointed that my earphones are not working again. This is the second time that I am having issues with it. I love your earphones and would hate to change brands.
Customer service representatives are trained to retain customers who show value to the company. Furthermore, they will feel more inclined to provide you with a better service when they sense your loyalty. This is just human nature.
5. Escalate the call
If all fails and you do believe that your issue can be resolved, proceed to ask to speak to a supervisor. It may be a Team Leader or a floor manager. Sometimes but not always, someone in the management would be able to provide an exception or a better resolution to your issues. It is always worth the try.
If you are being told that the supervisor is currently unavailable, proceed to take down the time of call (name of representative should have been taken down at the beginning of the call) and the time that you have made the request. Additionally, request for the supervisor’s name, email address, and a callback time or you can proceed to have the supervisor call you back — one hour is usually a good time.
There is also another trick that many representatives may usually use which is to pass the phone to the person next to them and act as the manager. If your representative sounded like he was insincere or afraid to put you through to their supervisor, reassure him or her that you are not intending to make a complaint. You simply want the matter to be resolved. This can either make the representative try once more to find a solution by reaching out to their seniors or even available supervisors for better options or they will arrange for a callback.
In the meantime, be savvy and find out the internal email addresses of the internal structure of the company. Wait for a day and if no calls are being returned, send a polite email with all the details of your calls and your call recording (if you have one) to the higher management.
Just by losing your cool will not help resolve any matter and I assure you that you will not get the results you want unless you want to spoil your own mood. Instead, by emailing your concerns to relevant executives, your issues will be prioritized — namely, VPs of customer service, or regional vice presidents. You will soon receive a callback from eager representatives or the executives themselves to resolve your issues.
Additional tip: Contact the company through social media/email
With the growing impact of social media, many companies are responding to Facebook and Twitter faster than phone calls.
This saves the customer from an expensive phone bill too.The additional benefit to using email and social media is that everything is recorded for you with a time stamp. Companies will not risk allowing customers to have evidence against their poor service usually.
It is best to use phone call as your second last resort before jumping into emailing VPs.