May 18, 2017

Five Tips for Getting What You Want from Customer Service More Often

Customer service reps tend to be nice to me. I have often thought about writing some tips for talking to them, and since I had my phone both fixed and replaced yesterday, now seems like a good time to do so.

Here are five tips to have good customer service experiences:

Fix Your Assumptions

Assume that whoever you talk to wants to help you, not that they want to withhold help. Businesses who abandon the customer die of natural causes. Many companies revolve around their customers and have built a culture of helpfulness. Actually, I often begin my appeal with the words, “Hi. I am hoping you can help me,” before proceeding to describe my problem. If you assume each worker’s goal is to please you, you will probably seem like a person worth helping.

Check Your Motivation

Complaining is much different than bringing a problem to the attention of the business for your mutual benefit. You should not have only your best interests in mind. They need to know that you are considering them as well.

Adjust Your Disposition and Tone

Don’t be apologetic or whiny. Be firm and kind. Smile instead of scowling, and be appreciative. I only mention this after the tips above, because if you are not thinking pleasant thoughts about a good outcome, your smiling will be fake, which is supremely unattractive. In the end I would rather serve Droopy the dog than Dolores Umbridge.

Mind Your Appearance

If speaking face-to-face, you don’t need to dress up, but it’s probably best if you aren’t sporting two days of stubble and a torn hoodie.

Choose Your Words

I am often tempted to ignore all of these tips and go in angrily threatening to leave and badmouth the company to everyone I know, but antagonism is a bad plan. Pick words that complement your kind face, and especially don’t be afraid of ending your appeal with these magic words: “Is there anything you can do for me?” This is a useful, persuasive question as it makes the representative a hero, just like the other question I gave above.

Conversation Skills

You need conversation skills, and not just for your role as a consumer. Being a good conversationalist will help you in nearly every situation and facet of your life.

Your job in conversation is not to find things to say that are so interesting that they hold the other party’s attention. Your job is to find out about the other person. Ask questions until you find something you have in common that merits its own discussion.

Two nights ago, after my phone broke, I was thinking about what I would wear to go to the Apple Store yesterday. This made me curious about how Apple Stores coordinate their t-shirts. I wondered if each team member gets a huge cache of multicolored shirts and a text to tell them which color to wear to work the next day. I learned from two different employees that the shirt colors change only after a span of time, which can be anywhere from a week to a couple of months.

The usefulness of that trivia is dubious, but that is conversation. I believe I was more of a human to those employees than any poor chump only fretting over his broken MacBook.

I also learned the educational history and aspirations of two Apple team members and wished one well in his graduate studies as he leaves the company after today’s shift. I talked with another about the book writing process.

Maybe you won’t have time to get to know a customer service person over the phone, but treating them as a human is key. In any conversation, you have to earn the trust to talk about yourself. In customer service encounters, establishing a relationship with goodwill is recommended, no matter how short that relationship will be.

Good luck!

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