“Tips for getting the best customer service.” It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Truth be told, the customer can get the best customer service by being the best customer. And that’s NOT an oxymoron.
Let’s face it. Customer service representatives work with people who are usually angry, dissatisfied and looking to take it out on someone. They deal with people who swear, threaten and scream at them all day long. To them, the best customer is the one who gives them some relief. Here’s how you can be that customer.
DON’T ASK THEM TO BEND THE RULES…
…Unless you have made some effort to follow them. Example: if you’re buying a classified advertisement in the local newspaper, but the deadline is at 4:30 p.m. and you get off work at 5 p.m., call the office before the deadline comes. It’s possible they can work around your situation by taking down the ad and holding it until you come in to pay, or offer you other options.
But if you show up at 5:01 -31 minutes later- and ask for them to extend the deadline for you, don’t expect to get it. Deadlines are there for a reason. It wouldn’t be fair to the other customers that were turned down for missing the deadline if an exception were made for you.
PAY YOUR BILL ON TIME
It may seem ridiculous, but in fact it’s true. Paying your bill on time establishes a positive relationship with the company you’re doing business with. Basically, you’re telling the company that you’re a loyal customer.
Paying your bill on time gives you special “exceptions” when you call in to make a complaint. For example, if you paid your credit card online and the payment didn’t clear until the day after it was due, you might get the late fee waived. If you tell the representative you made an honest attempt to pay on-time and your records show you’ve consistently paid (at least some of) your bill on-time they might grant your request. But if you’re consistently late or missed a payment, don’t expect any special favors.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, BUT ASK QUESTIONS
Asking questions tells the representative you’re interested in what’s happening with your account, purchase or whatever. Customer service representatives are required to know their products, so asking questions about what fits your needs can help you make the right decision.
Asking questions also means listening to the answers they give you. They’re not paid to rip you off; they’re paid to make you a satisfied customer. So listen to what information they give you.
Asking them how long they have been working for the company or what sort of training they have that can help you make the right decision and you’ll know how much of an expert they are. If at any time you feel unsure of the person you are talking to, ask for a supervisor or someone with more experience to join the conversation.
DON’T BE CONDESCENDING
The best way to ruin your customer service experience is to insult the person you’re doing business with. Don’t tell them they are stupid or dumb. It will just make your experience worse. Instead, be patient with them. They need to ask “dumb questions” to understand what’s wrong.
That said, don’t call the customer service company when you’re angry. Anger only creates more anger. Instead, take a few minutes to calm down and sort out your thoughts before you pick up the phone. You’ll be able to communicate clearly and effectively with the representative and you’ll get your issue resolved faster.
CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE ON “OFF” TIMES
If you’re human, you probably hate being put on hold when you call a customer service phone line. Long holds with boring, dull music and monotonous “commercials” can be a frustrating way to wait while you continually fume over the conversation you intend to have with the person on the other end of the line.
Most people call customer service lines when it’s most convenient for them: during lunch, on a work break or any other time during the typical work day. This is also when customer service lines are the busiest.
Have you tried calling customer service at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night? Believe me, I’ve tried it and I was on hold for less than 15 seconds. If the company you need to call offers 24-hour customer service, take advantage of the “24-hour” part. Try calling just before you go to bed or right away when you wake up and you’ll get your problem fixed fast.
MAKE SMALL TALK
“Hi, how are you today?” or “Did you find what you are looking for today?”
We’ve all heard these statements. But did you ever take advantage of the opportunity? Cashiers are required to ask those questions to start small talk with you. They hate asking the question as much as you hate answering them.
Instead, when they ask “hi, how are you?” bounce the question back and say “I’m great, how are you?” It sends the conversation back to them, shows them you’re friendly and sparks a conversation. By the two of you establishing a thirty-second relationship you might get a smile with your “thank you for coming today.”
As a side note, don’t tell the cashier of a large store you didn’t find what you were looking for. Just say “yes, thank you.” Most people are too nice to say they didn’t find something so the cashier won’t have a clue what to do about it anyway. Instead, ask a store associate before you go to the checkout.
SAY THANK YOU,…
…Give a compliment or do something for them. Customer service is a tough job. Most cashiers spend hours on their feet working with unruly customers and don’t get paid very well for it. Offering to take the shopping basket back to where you found it, helping to bag your own groceries or telling them how nice that shirt is can get you better customer service.
How? It shows them you care about them as a person and not an object. After a day of working with self-centered people it can be a relief to find someone who cares about THEM a little too. It works wonders at stores you go to frequently because they remember that about you. What you do now can help you in the future when you come with a complaint.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
It’s true the customer is always right. But it isn’t necessary for you to rub it in their face. A little friendly treatment can get you a long way toward getting the best customer service. All it takes is a little thoughtfulness and some patience on your part. In other words, better customer service starts with better customers.