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Honey still works better

You remember your mother saying “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?”

It wasn’t really about flies.

My last post was about a problem I had and what to keep in mind when fixing things for your customers. Considering how surprised the nice customer service rep was that I wasn’t irate and screaming, I thought a few tips for the customer side of things were in order.

1. Don’t yell at people who can’t help you.

If you’re angry about a situation, chances are excellent that the first person you get on the phone doesn’t know anything and can’t help you. Wait until you reach the right pay grade.

2. Be clear on what your problem is, and when appropriate, what you’d like the resolution to be.

‘I’m really unhappy’ is not a good complaint. Give them a chance to actually help by providing clear details. Have your paperwork handy.

3. Don’t assume everyone is out to get you.

Business don’t stay in business by intending to deliver a shoddy product. (I don’t want to talk about government departments right now.) Approach each problem with the assumption that it was an honest mistake and they’d like to fix it for you. There’s plenty of time to get irate later if its necessary.

4. Control your temper.

Even when losing your temper is appropriate, don’t. Either the person on the other end of the phone really wants to help you, or they don’t. Screaming about it isn’t going to change them one way or the other. Honestly, when I’m pleasant and restrained most customer service reps I deal with are so shocked that they’re happy to bend over backwards just because I’m nice.

5. If you need to escalate, go right ahead, but don’t assume.

Everyone wants to talk to a supervisor or the manager. That isn’t always necessary. Often anyone in customer service can help you. You’ll always have to wait for a manager, and when you summon one specifically, they’re already on the defensive. Of course, if you get someone who isn’t competent, your issue is complicated, or you’re not getting anywhere, then don’t hesitate to ask for a supervisor, and then let the supervisor know you tried to handle it at the lower level, but it wasn’t working for you.

Mostly, I think a generous application of Calm Down would improve most customer service issues immeasurably.