Welcome back to the Skills 360 podcast. I’m your host Tim Simmons, and today I want to help you get good customer service. More specifically, we’re going to learn how to complain properly and get a good solution.
It all starts with a problem. You buy a product and it doesn’t work right. Or you buy a service and you are not served well. You get frustrated. You paid good money but you’re not getting what you expected. It’s time to complain. So you go back to the store or you ring up a customer service line. This interaction could end with more frustration or it could end with satisfaction, depending on the outcome. So how can you get a good outcome?
The first thing is attitude. Always begin with a polite approach. Don’t assume that you’re going to get bad service. If you plant an apple tree, you’ll get apples. And if you plant a positive and constructive attitude, you’ll get positive, constructive solutions. Customer service reps deal with a lot of grumpy people, and you might just brighten their day by being nice. And they might reward you for it. Now, your feeling might change. You might feel less positive or friendly if you encounter resistance, but you should always remain polite and professional.
Okay, when it comes to describing your problem, there are a few important dos and don’ts. First, explain the problem clearly, including any details that might help the person figure out what went wrong. Don’t exaggerate or become emotional. That will only damage your credibility. So it’s good to say something like “I have turned the machine on and off 5 times and each time I get the error code E44.” That’s clear and detailed. Don’t say “I’ve turned the stupid machine on a thousand times and it just won’t work.”
Next, you need to highlight your dissatisfaction and that your problem needs to be remedied. In other words, you need to tell the person you are not satisfied and that you need a solution. This might mean communicating your frustration, but you should do it by stating that you’re frustrated rather than showing your frustration. That could sound something like this: “This situation is very frustrating to me, and I need a solution.”
Now let’s talk about solutions. Sometimes you start the conversation with a solution in mind. You have already decided what will make you satisfied. In this case, you should propose it directly. If you want a refund, say “I would like a refund.” Notice that we are still being polite and professional.
But sometimes you don’t have a specific solution in mind and you would like the company to give you one. In this case, let them offer something. If you’re happy with the solution, great. But if you’re not, you need to say so. Often a customer service agent will start with the solution that is easiest or cheapest for the company. And you won’t get anything more unless you ask for it.
Sometimes you don’t get the solution you ask for and you’re not satisfied with what is being offered, not matter how hard – and politely – you push. What can you do then?
Well, you can try talking to someone else. That could mean calling back at another time. You may find that you get a different attitude, and different solutions, from different customer service agents. One may be grouchy and unhelpful, while another may be nice and compassionate.
Talking to someone else could also mean escalating the call. When you escalate, you go higher up. That is, you can tell the person that you’d like to talk to their manager, or boss, or whoever is in a higher position. You’ll likely have to repeat your explanation but you might just get a better response. And sometimes you have to keep escalating until you find someone who can really help you.
Here’s an important reminder: as you go through the process of complaining and trying to find a solution, document everything. When you talk to a person, write down his or her name and when you called. Write down the details of the call, including what solutions you were offered and what you were denied. This can help if you want to talk to the same person again, or if you have to recount the details of your customer service adventure to another person in the company.
Now let’s recap. Start with a polite and professional attitude, explain your problem clearly, and ask directly for the solution you want, if you have one. If you let them offer a solution, keep pushing politely until you are satisfied. Talk to someone else if you need to. And write everything down.
That’s all for today. So long. And see you again soon!