Thursday, February 18, 2010

Be persistent with customer service representatives

Everyone at one time or another has had a grievance with a company that was worth bringing up after the fact with a customer service representative.  Maybe it was a bad experience at a restaurant, hotel (a favorite complaint among travelers), or shoddy product.  The key to winning the customer service battle can sometimes come down to being the more persistent one.  Also, knowing how to utilize various customer service avenues is key as well.

Find the correct customer service contact information
For example, most individual consumer-focused companies have a website for their customers.  At the least, a customer service phone number should be on the receipt from a good or service ordered.  But, if not the case, finding a customer service contact on the company’s website may take some digging.  If not immediately obvious on the home page, look for a “Contact us,” “About,” or similar hyperlink.  Click on it.  There might be a frequently asked questions (FAQ) guide or other means for addressing concerns.  That’s the first step.  The FAQ may then provide a means for contacting the company via secure email form on their website.  See it?  Good!  Now, it’s time to write the letter.

Think like Johnny Cochran and make the case
Before simply rattling off a note, check a few things first.  Ensure a state of calm.  No matter how bad the experience that led to contacting the company, no customer service representative likes an angry, ill-toned customer.  Instead, be relaxed, but firm, and be prepared with receipts and any other documentation to support the complaint.  Next, type the letter in Microsoft Word (or a favorite program) and spell/grammar check.  Just as it doesn't help to sound angry, customer service will appreciate a well-written, constructive letter, and not one riddled with errors (or profanity).  See the general theme?  Be sure to treat the company representative as an adult and they should reciprocate the gesture.  Also, for the reader, this shows that the writer cares, is intelligent, and not just blowing off steam.  When finished with the letter, cut and paste it back into the website’s form and send.

Go old school
So, it’s been a few weeks and still no word from the company, or the initial response was less than flattering?  It’s time to go old school.  Go back to the company’s website, locate an address, and point of contact, if possible, and snail mail them directly.  These days, web communication with a company may be read quickly, but can be easily forgotten among the pile of other emails sent in.  With a written letter, it will stand out among the crowd.  And, it’s a lot easier to provide important documentation, such as a receipt, in it.

Ultimately, these strategies may not work all of the time, but if never tried, there's no way of knowing if a problem could have been resolved favorably.  It might even be the case that the outcome is better than imagined.