Oct 19, 2007

Six tips for making dreaded calls to customer service a little easier

I hate calling customer service. But I do it anyway, because I hate not saving money even more. I've been doing it for years, and I've saved thousands of dollars because of it. In fact, today, I called my phone company to complain that I had switched plans after being told that my new plan would result in a lower bill, only to have my new bill be higher. I was prepared for a long call during which I would have to persuade the customer service rep to switch me back to our old plan without any fees, but instead I was pleasantly surprised. The CSR told me that there was some kind of proration that she could credit us for, and she cut the new bill by $10. It was a good reminder that even though I sometimes put these calls off because I dread making them, they almost always pay off.

Here are some ways that I make these calls easier on myself:
  1. Always have the necessary information in front of you. This includes the bill you're calling to question and your account number - basically, anything the CSR may ask for.

  2. Always have pen and paper at hand and take notes. I usually write directly on the bill or relevant paper if there is one. If there isn't, I write on a blank piece of paper and store it with the relevant records. Some people prefer to use a notebook. Do whatever works for you - just make sure you write down the date, the name of the CSR, and the important details of your conversation. It's okay to ask the CSR to speak more slowly or hold on a moment because you're writing things down (in fact, they may provide better service because they know you're documenting the call).

  3. Make sure you can find the paper you wrote on when you follow up. This actually goes along with tip #1. If you have to make a follow up call, it's best to have your notes from the previous call in front of you. That way you can start off by saying, "On September 6, I spoke to Mary, who said that I would save money by switching phone plans." This makes it clear to the CSR that you're on the ball, and it'll be easy to answer questions about what you were told the last time you called.

  4. Be polite. I've had the best results when I've stayed calm and polite, even if at the same time, I'm stomping my feet because I'm so frustrated. It helps to call when you're in a relatively good mood and not pressed for time. Which leads into the next tip . . .

  5. Do something else that's interrupt-able when you call. I hate being on hold, so I make sure that I'm doing something else that can be easily interrupted when I call. This can include going through posts on Google Reader, writing thank-you notes, or simply flipping through a magazine.

  6. If you do snap, apologize. I've done this when my frustration has gotten the best of me. I say something like, "I'm very sorry for speaking harshly. This is very frustrating and I'd really like to get this resolved." If appropriate, I mention the prior, ineffective calls that I made. This is also a good time to ask to speak to a supervisor.
Follow these tips and I think you'll find calling customer service a little less dreadful.


SAHMmy Says said...

Great tips, and thanks for the link! I swear by #3--when they know YOU know the details of each and every call you've made, reps tend to provide much more efficient and courteous service. It does irk me though when they pretend not to know that/why I called before, as most companies keep notes on all calls that pop up for the rep to view.

Melanie said...

Definitely a great topic and useful information. Everyone has had to make the dreaded calls before and no doubt in the future. Yuck! LOL Just thought about one I need to make about changing credit card info for auto deductions. Yuck!

ChiefFamilyOfficer said...

@SAHMmy - I completely agree!

@Melani - Thanks! And good luck with that call!

Anonymous said...

Really good points! I have to call customer service a fair amount at work. I've learned to set it up with the bill in front of me and Google Reader (or something similar) open on the computer. Saves a lot of stress.

ChiefFamilyOfficer said...

@Mrs. Micah - Yup, that's pretty much how I do it! Makes a huge difference, doesn't it?