Everyone will have to deal with customer service at one point in their lives. For most people, it can be an arduous process; one to dread. It is entirely possible to make it less so – and it’s surprisingly easy. The following are several tips that I’ve picked up in my many hours spent on the phone with customer support representatives of all kinds.
Remind Yourself of the Audience
To begin with, it’s important to remember that the tired customer service agent that you usually find on the other end of the trek through the automated phone menus and intermittent holds is a person, just like you. Being unnecessarily rude to them right off the bat is a quick way to ensure that they will no longer care about helping you.
Be Polite but Firm
Politely answer their questions and exchange pleasantries. Even if this is the hundredth time on the call you’ve given a representative your information, give it clearly and politely – most support networks don’t pass on your info between systems and people; usually the most they get is a brief summary of your issue. Being firm about what you will accept as a solution is often helpful and sets expectations upfront. Some reps are trained to offer the minimum amount of compensation – asking them for something specific (that they’re allowed to give) will generally result in them giving it to you.
Make Them Your Ally
If you’ve been polite and calm throughout the call, you’ve established that it’s not ‘You vs. Them’. Give them a common enemy to help you ‘win’ against, e.g. your boss is really on your case about getting this case resolved, can they please help you out? You’d be surprised how often people are willing to go out of their way for you if they feel like they are either saving you or helping you ‘stick it to the man’. Additionally, expressing to them how you will forever be in their debt can’t hurt. People love to feel like they are ‘owed’ something whether they know it or not.
Let them finish their spiel and ask you what your issue is. Then, list your problem, what you’ve done to fix it, how this is affecting you, and what you want from them. Try to do this without interruptions so they have all of the information up front. This is a great way to skip most of the back and forth that eats up most of the time spent on the call. There is a balance to find here however, too fast will result in more questions and slowdowns – try and find a comfortable speed for them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Show Appropriate Frustration
The rep’s job is to represent the company in a positive light. Use this to your advantage by expressing why you’re disappointed in their company. They will want to ‘repair the company’s good name’ by fixing your problem/giving you what you want; it’s their job. Be careful to not make them think that you’re frustrated with them. This has worked a surprising amount, especially with bigger tech companies.
Make It Easy For Them
This is a very broad tip. It includes everything from having all the information they might ask for on hand to making it clear what you want from them. If you can make it easy for them to give you what you’re looking for, they’ll generally go for it. Tell them what you’d want, but also include options you’d settle for if it seems like they’re not going along with the first request. Being prepared for questions they might ask can save both of you lots of time, which they’ll appreciate. They don’t want to be there as much as you don’t want to be calling them – giving them an easy solution that you like is a great way to speed things up.
Be Wary of Trap Questions
For most refunds or replacements, there are a list of things that can make you ineligible for either or both. Be cautious if a rep asks you a potentially leading question such as “Have you tried to repair this product on your own?”. Try and give as little information on potentially warranty-voiding activities you may or may not have conducted. This usually only applies to hardware, as software warranty-voiding activities are generally harder to pull off.
In closing, remember these are people. Treat them with the same level of respect you’d expect someone else to treat you with. Keep that in mind when considering how to approach your conversation.
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