Have you ever called a call center or a customer service number to complain about a product or service? Well, that's a silly question. Of course you have! If you've been alive during the last forty years you've had more than enough experiences with defective merchandise and/or substandard customer service to be able to relate to this question.
Throughout the years, those manning the call center telephones have always told the story that their customers are abusive. They hang up on them, curse them, yell at them, and vent all their frustrations on them. I found that so difficult to believe because these same people were so helpful and nice to me and treated me with the greatest respect. What I didn't know was that their customer service skills for difficult situations were so lacking due to poor training, that it was no wonder they were being victimized.
What I found out over the next several months, was that most call centers limit you to four minutes of telephone time, no matter what the issue is. I asked my representative, who was the nicest guy imaginable and who often complained about being abused by his customers, how he was able to handle a complaint within four minutes. His response was that he had been trained to get the customer to first calm down so he could resolve the complaint. "So, how does that work out for you?" I asked. He told me that the people usually start yelling at him and cursing him out.
Is it any wonder that customer service representatives are being victimized? When they are talking to a customer longer than the allotted time, their supervisors give them dirty looks and signal to them to cut the call short. If a customer is angry, he is not going to respond well to being told to "calm down." He doesn't want to calm down. He wants you to listen to his complaint, understand his frustration, and resolve the problem immediately to his satisfaction. He doesn't want to be treated like a recalcitrant child who is having a temper tantrum and being told to "calm down" before you deign to address his problem.
Most people just want you to listen to them and take their complaint seriously. Don't keep telling them that it's against company policy; customers don't care about company policy, they just want you to fix the problem and to fix it NOW. They want to feel that you are sympathetic to their cause. If your hands are tied because of company policy, escalate the matter to someone who has the authority to act in the customer's favor. If you want to keep his business, act as if you care about his needs. There are too many companies out there vying for the same small share of the marketplace for you to treat his complaint in a cavalier manner.
Whenever I have a problem that is not being handled to my satisfaction, I always ask for a supervisor. I'm not about to get into a pissing contest with a representative so I ask for someone who has greater authority, usually a supervisor or manager, and almost always the matter can be handled quickly and without drawing blood.
One day, I had a problem that needed to be resolved and I was told that what I wanted was against company policy. The supervisor and I went round and round about this issue. I hate being told that something is against company policy when that particular policy makes no sense so I did the only thing that did make sense. I wrote a letter (sent by snail mail) to the president of the company and made a good case for what I wanted. He sent my letter to each of his Vice Presidents as well as to the head of his Customer Satisfaction department and within the week the issue was resolved to my satisfaction. Because of the excellent way he handled my issue, I have remained a loyal customer.
I've learned over the years that if you have a valid complaint, it's your responsibility to make sure that it's resolved to your satisfaction. Don't take your frustration out on the person who is trying to help you; if you run up against a stone wall have the matter escalated to someone with more authority. Go as high up the chain of command as necessary, and if that still doesn't get you the desired results, state your position as clearly and as logically as you can in a letter (not an e-mail) to the president of the company. There are very few captains of industry who want to lose the revenue from dissatisfied customers and they will usually go out of their way to ensure your loyalty.
Connie H. Deutsch, an internationally known business consultant and personal advisor has a keen understanding of human nature and is a natural problem-solver. She is known throughout the world for helping clients find workable solutions to complex problems. Connie has hosted her own weekly radio show, been a weekly guest on a morning radio show, done guest spots on radio shows around the country, and appeared as a guest on a cable TV show. She wrote a weekly newspaper Advice Column for sixteen years and has been invited to speak at local colleges and given lectures around the country. She also wrote the scripts for a weekly financial show on cable TV. Connie is the author of the books, Whispers of the Soul and The Counseling Effect and the co-author of an eBook, Getting Rich While the World Falls Apart, a free download on her website. She has also written and produced two CDs on meditation and relationships and has done coaching on customer service and employee relationships. Visit her website at: http://www.conniehdeutsch.com and see more of her articles at http://conniehdeutsch.com/articles.html.© 2012 Connie H. Deutsch
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