The Dos And Don’ts Of Getting Someone To Take Your Complaint Seriously

While there are no guaranteed ways to convince a customer service rep that your complaint has merit, there are certain things that can only help you make your case — and others that will only submarine your efforts.

BASIC INFORMATION

DO:
-Have all the relevant information needed before contacting customer service and be familiar with it. Gather and review all the bills, bank/credit card statements, e-mails or anything other thing you will need.

DON’T:
-Call without being prepared to provide account numbers, dates, amounts, etc. The one exception would be in true emergencies where this information is not readily available.

DO:
-Make notes of every CSR you speak to and any confirmation or reference numbers they give during the call.

DON’T:
-Hang up without getting some sort of confirmation that the promised resolution has been entered into the system. Ideally, you can get this in writing, though many companies will not provide e-mail confirmations of customer service calls.

BEHAVIOR:

DO:
-Avoid calling at your angriest or firing off a nasty e-mail. We recommend talking with a friend or family member — preferably one who will not inflame your fury — just to get the ire out of your system.

DON’T:
-Start shouting at the first person who answers the phone, even if you’ve been on hold forever. It’s likely to put the CSR on the defensive or have them turning to their “how to deal with an irate customer” script, which will probably only make you more upset.

DO:
-Try to make a personal connection with the CSR. We’re not saying you should schedule a movie date, but it helps both you and the CSR to put a human face each other.

DON’T:
-Insult or mock the CSR. If you are having trouble understanding the other person’s accent or think they are not getting the basics of your complaint for whatever reason, you can politely ask to speak to another rep.

DO:
-Own up to any errors that you might have made.

DON’T:
-Try to hide those mistakes or lie about any other relevant information. It will only cause confusion as the CSR tries to reconcile the data in their system with the half-truths they are being told.

GETTING RESULTS

DO:
-Patiently work your way through the regular customer service channels.

DON’T:
-Try to jump ahead of the line and go directly to a supervisor (unless you have previously spoken to a supervisor and been told to do so for later calls). Your issue is probably just as important as the other people trying to get a resolution.

DO:
-Go into the conversation with a desired resolution in mind and make the case for why you believe this is reasonable.

DON’T:
-Have unrealistic expectations or requests. Demanding too much compensation for your issue, or being inflexible on your demands, will likely result in a stalemate.

DO:
-Politely request to escalate your issue if you believe your complaint is not being understood.

DON’T:
-Make empty threats of legal action. Many CSRs are trained to shut down the conversation once a customer mentions a lawsuit. If you do intend to file suit, the customer service line is not a courtroom.

LAST RESORT:
If you have worked your way through the regular customer service channels and still feel that your issue has not been resolved to your satisfaction, consider an Executive E-mail Carpet Bomb, in which you send an e-mail to the company’s top executives (See tips on figuring out corporate e-mails here).

TIPS FOR EECB WRITING –
DO:
-Be detailed and to the point. Provide all relevant information in an easily understood format (bullet points are always good). As with the phone calls, you should propose your own reasonable solution.

DON’T:
-Use the EECB as an outlet for your inner slam poet or insult comic. Lengthy screeds with angry asides and snarky insults will only distract from the presentation of your problem.

It all boils down to being prepared — to make your argument (several times); to pose a resolution; to remain calm and collected all the while.