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Customer Service

None of us looks forward to calling large companies – Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Direct TV, etc. – because the wait time can be long, the phone tree confusing, and outcome unsatisfying.

I make a lot of these calls, some for myself, but many on behalf of others. Here are three pieces of advice I can offer you for a more successful outcome, or at least a more enjoyable experience:

1) Use the name of the customer service representative

Customer service reps always identify themselves; acknowledge the first name and write it down. These reps introduce themselves hundreds of times a day and most callers, in a hurry to finally explain why they are calling, fail to acknowledge it. Once I start referring to the rep by his name, I immediately notice a change in his attitude toward my issue and the more helpful he becomes. Try it.

2) If asked, agree to do a follow-up survey

Some companies ask you before you get any help if you will agree to complete a one question survey after the call. While it seems maddening to be asked, say “yes.” I don’t know if there is any merit to this theory, but I feel as though if there is any chance that the service rep knows that you agreed to complete a survey, she will treat you better than she might otherwise. When you get the follow-up survey call, you can choose to answer or not.

3) Be nice

This is the hardest part! We often call these companies because we are dissatisfied with our service, and we are in no mood to be nice. I find that the nicer I am to the service reps, the nicer – and more helpful – they are to me. These reps get rebuked all day long and, in fact, are not responsible for the issue about which we are calling. I just imagine how relieved they must be to hear a voice that isn’t ready to reprimand them. Don’t confuse nice with firm, however. It’s a challenge to express dissatisfaction and be nice at the same time.

One reminder: this advice applies to the calls that you make to a company’s official customer service number that you can find on your monthly statement. This does not apply to unsolicited callers that call you offering help for a fee. As I have written before, hang up on these callers!