Win the Customer Service Game

We have all gotten screwed by a hotel/airline/department store/travel agent, etc. in our lifetimes.  Am I right?

Well, because we are indeed “mature,” that actually works well for us in getting some measure of response, repair, or recompense.  In most cases, we are long-standing customers/shoppers/cardholders of the offending service and that counts for something when trying to obtain (at the very least) an apology for the slight.

When something “happens” that is really not your fault, you should definitely make your displeasure known.  There is virtually no downside.  This usually entails enlisting the assistance of Customer Service (CS).  Block out some time and here’s how to handle it:

  • Be polite.  Calm down a bit.  You want to get the person (you will likely speak to more than one) on your side.  Be prepared to get plenty of “we’re sorry” and placating platitudes in an attempt to mollify you cheaply.
  • Have your facts straight. Be sure you have any confirmation numbers, invoices, names, and dates at the ready.
  • Know precisely what you want.  A replacement?  A refund?  Have your end zone in sight before you call.
  • Start at the bottom.  Spell out your issue and ask the rep if they have the authority to give you what you want (see above!).  Ask to speak to a supervisor if you are not satisfied.  Don’t be upset when you have to restate your problem again and again.  Keep your cool.
  • Work your way to the top of the customer service pyramid.  Keep notes of who you speak to.
  • Remind customer service that you have been a loyal customer for ___ years (be specific) and there are competitors who would be happy to have you.
  • Play the internet/social media card.  Mention that you are savvy and will immediately go online to the company’s Facebook page to complain as well as Twitter. In fact, we know that Delta Airlines, for example, monitors their Twitter site for complaints, so it’s safe to assume others do as well.  So try Twitter contemporaneously to your Customer Service call.
  • Gripe Sites.  There are many sites that provide aggrieved customers a forum to vent.  Hotels and Restaurants are usually very sensitive to threats of going to Yelp and posting your dissatisfaction.
  • If you strike out on the phone, don’t give up.  This is a game of attrition. Write online to CS and go wide.  Look up Vice Presidents, Managers, etc. and copy them as well. Be sure to refer to the names/dates you’ve assembled on your odyssey.
  • No response still?  Consider calling in help.  Government regulators may have some sway, Better Business Bureau, FTC, Attorney General, etc.
  • Depending on how P.O.’d you are, try contacting local media (television, radio, newspapers) “Help Me” editors and correspondents.
  • Go nuclear.  Small claims court is an avenue to consider as well as hiring an attorney.

There are no guarantees that you will get what you want but with competition stiff in almost every service sector, you have a better than even chance of getting something for your inconvenience if you persevere.  Companies hope you will just walk away from a slight . . . show them we’re made of stronger stuff!


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