What the heck happened to customer service? I mean it. Really. Learning how to deal with bad customer service is a skill any girl should have.
Before getting into the “meat of the matter,” I think the answer has three letters: ROI. Return-on-Investment. In business, everything has a cost and you hope your return is greater than your cost. That’s how you stay in business and grow.
But, somewhere along the line, things changed and some executive figured out “we pay way more for customer service than it’s worth.” It doesn’t bring customers back, get us referrals and costs us a ton in people, phones, returns and cash. Call centers aren’t outsourced to India and the Philippines because the quality is better – they read scripts, mispronounce everything and get paid 25 cents an hour. They’re cheap! A good way to keep a minimal presence and no more. The death of “the customer is always right.”
But you CAN (and should) be “always right” – if, for nothing else, your own self-respect and peace-of-mind. And, if you have children, showing them that standing up for yourself is a good thing. The RIGHT thing.
Maybe it’s more a personality thing and willingness (and even a passion) to fight. There is nothing more satisfying than winning a fight. Especially a noble fight, meaning one that’s important to YOU. Don’t get mad. Get your way. You might be thinking “I want to fight, but don’t know how.” Well, here’s how to deal with bad customer service.
1. Ask for the Manager
After giving the CSR (Customer Service Representative) an opportunity to cite corporate chapter and verse, thank them and say “I’m just not satisfied with that. Can you call the manager please?” This is a quite effective way for you to learn how to deal with bad customer service.
Sometimes this immediately solves the matter – the CSR doesn’t really want the manager involved. And the manager doesn’t WANT to be involved. Graciously accept the CSR’s “well, as a one time accommodation, we’re going to…”
But, if needed, managers have more latitude to keep you happy, but more importantly to get you to go away. Speak firmly, but politely. Call them by their name. It’s probably on their badge, or they’ll give it to you when they introduce themselves.
2. Go to Corporate
The CEO, or realistically the CEO’s administrative assistant is your next stop. They may not handle the issue but know who to send it to. All of this information is available on the Internet.
Corporations want to KEEP YOU OUT. Be smart and persistent. Outsmart them. How badly do you want this? You gotta want it bad! If you get blocked, go to investor relations. And all these folks have EVEN MORE latitude than the manager. Also imagine the manager’s surprise when he/she gets a call from corporate about your complaint.
3. If Corporate Doesn’t Cooperate, Go to the Board of Directors
There’s a list of them on the corporate web site and where to contact them. Obviously, this is for serious (to you) matters. But you might be brought up in a BOD or committee meeting.
4. If the Company Isn’t a Corporation, but an Individual Business, Go to the Owner
Small businesses have even more on the line and want and need to keep you as a returning customer. The owner can help you solve your problem in a satisfactory way.
5. There Are Also State and Federal Agencies That Oversee Different Industries or, Better Still, Hold the License a Company Needs to Run Its Operations
Everything from insurance, to beauty salons to mortgage companies. A consumer beef lodged against a license must be cleared up before the license can be renewed.
6. If You Made the Purchase with a Credit Card, Get Your “Big Brother” in the Fight
Most card companies have a dispute process and will immediately issue a credit until the matter is resolved. Most merchants DON’T want to fight a customer AND a bank.
7. Better Business Bureau and Bad Online Reviews
The BBB is sometimes helpful, but is more for venting and warning others about your bad experience. Sometimes a merchant will work with you to settle the matter and get you to remove the bad report.
8. Go to Court, Specifically Small Claims Court
Nothing is more satisfying or rewarding than hauling someone into court who has told you to “go pound sand.” The drafting of documents is easy and user friendly, and often the defendant will work with you to settle the matter before you even go to your first hearing.