Who doesn’t have a customer service horror story? Lost luggage, mobile phone bills, cable and internet service. Simply listing these examples raises my blood pressure and I suspect evokes strong negative emotions even in Buddhists. We’ve all at some point been at the mercy of a sadistic call-center ghoul from parts unknown in dire need of psychiatric care. Isn’t it time we all tried a different approach?

Customer Service Starts With The Customer

If you’ve ever started a customer service conversation with “Alright, look…” or some not-so-veiled threat, let me perhaps be the first to enlighten you to the following: you’re getting nothing out of this person. No help, no empathy, no nothing. Companies with customer service reps that have the godly ability to calm an irate customer down, resolve their problem within minutes and compensate that customer with freebies beyond their wildest expectations are a rare breed indeed. If you’re feeling lucky though, by all means sharpen that tongue of yours and start dialing! Press 1 for English. Resolution and closure are about to shine their warm light upon you.

Another approach, arguably the better approach, would be to check your frustration at the door before the call and remember that tenacity and courtesy go a long way with a customer service team. Do you know why? Because that’s what’ll set you apart from the mob of whiny callers that rep has dealt with since the start of their shift. It’ll be refreshing. A new hope that there really is someone out there who isn’t desperate to exert a morsel of power over someone, something (read: anything) in their lives. customer service

“I’m having a hell of a time getting this situation resolved Ian, but I can tell you’re the one who’s gonna make this all go away for me!” That’s how I started my call with a customer service rep from my ISP recently. I’ll spare you the details, save to say that I’ve had eight, yes eight technicians come to my home in the span of two months to resolve an internet speed issue. Over eighteen hours on the phone with tech support and customer service during that same time – never once did I feel that losing my cool or professionalism would move things along faster.

Results From a New Approach

Was it frustrating? Soul-sucking is the word I’d use. But in the end, Ian told me that “…tenacity and courtesy go a long way to getting what you want, and you sir have remained courteous and professional throughout this process. So for that, I’m going to make every exception I can to get you compensation that reflects both the sincerity of our apologies and your positive attitude.” I’m not making this up. He said that. I knew I’d share this story the moment he finished that sentence.

I’m now getting a ridiculously low rate for my mobile, internet and television service. Many instances of the word “unlimited” now decorate my service level agreement and I can fuel up my SUV with what I’m saving compared to just a few months ago with the same carrier.

I won. Yes, I wasted way too many billable hours getting this resolved but in the end, I’m getting all that money back and then some. It’s all about attitude. Take it in stride. If you’re in the right spirit of things, you’ll get more than you ever expected. Not just from customer service reps. From anyone, anywhere.

P.S. Don’t bother making threats about taking your business elsewhere. Nobody cares. Seriously. Especially the customer service rep. But if you can’t resist making threats, instead threaten to stay until they’ve solved the problem and promise to make their life hell until they do! Remember, you’ve only got the upper hand when you’re a customer.