Can I speak with your supervisor?

What is it about some people that always think it’s going to be a problem and so they make it a problem?

Let me repeat that last part. There are certain people that make it a problem.

On support phone calls, or calls to customer service they demean the other person and act like they are stupid. They do it by the tone of their voice, by personal attacks on customer support people they don’t even know. Saying things like “you have a terrible business” or “can I talk to someone who knows what they are doing?”

And it always happens that they ask for the supervisor. How do I know all of this? Because I’ve had to listen to someone who does this all of the time with phone calls. I cannot stand it.

For some reason these people think it’s a clever way to get what they want faster. It’s not. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been able to call and get the answer I need quickly by simply being nice. Love your neighbor as yourself goes a long way.

I think most people who act like this don’t really think about it. They are this way for whatever reason.

Let me offer my simple tips for getting results when speaking with customer support people:

  • Remember they’re people, too (so speak to them as such) and their job is to fix your problem. So they’re actually on your side. Sounds simple but a lot of people don’t act like they understand this.
  • State clearly the solution you are asking for, and not the problem. For example, don’t say “You didn’t change my account information over correctly and I’m not paying these bills.” Instead, try this: “I need to get my account changed from A to B and here’s why.”
  • Do whatever you can to keep the customer support person your friend. The moment you put them on the defensive you’ve lost.
  • Don’t bring up past failure. What I mean is that if the last person you talked to didn’t get it done, don’t tell the next person that they failed. Simply state that you’re still trying to get whatever it is fixed and wanted to know the status.
  • Realize no company is perfect and it never will be. Learn to navigate their customer support system and be patient.
  • Use email. If you can’t keep your cool, try writing out the problem and resolution required and sending it first.

I know a lot of people will roll their eyes when they read this list. You go right ahead and do that. Maybe you’re the type that should ask a friend or family member to take care of support requests for you.

Thus ends probably the only post in recent times that didn’t have any humor.

What tips do you have for getting good customer service?

6 responses to “Can I speak with your supervisor?”

  1. Brilliant thoughts Chris.

    I spent just over 2 years in an industry that relied very heavily on excellent customer service levels. Since those days I’ve been a stickler for good service. Perhaps your product isn’t the best, but if you’ve got incredible back-up and support, it makes it so much better in the long run.

    Granted, its sometimes tough to keep your cool, but you’re right, being pleasant is a whole lot better than throwing your toys out the cot and being condescending.

    Nicely put.

  2. Thanks MarkB, yeah, I mostly wrote that from my perspective of getting good service. It’s all about how you see the world. If the world is out there to help you then you’ll probably have a much better experience. Too many people go through life thinking everything is supposed to be perfect. They’re on the wrong planet. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Too many people go through life thinking everything is supposed to be perfect. They’re on the wrong planet.

    Okay, that’s a good quote. That should be in a book or on a newspaper or something.

  4. Chris, I’m the manager of the customer service department for a big commercial finance company and you’ve hit the nail firmly on the head. My team members are a whole lot more willing to help a caller who treats them professionally than someone who rants about our phone system, how much the company sucks or how we are all screwing him over.

    My people want to help. That’s what they’re there for and I make a point of hiring people-pleasers. We make a practice of going out of our way for the customers who treat us like humans. But we’re not there to be berated and sworn at and all my team members have permission to terminate a phone call if the caller becomes abusive.

    I believe in reinforcing the kind of behavior that I want to see in our customers, both internal and external. I also believe that responding to abuse by rewarding it (giving the abusive customer priority over everyone else who was there first and is waiting) teaches this customer that, at my company, he can get ahead by screaming, belittling and swearing at the employees. When dealing with an obnoxious customer, I’ve trained my associates to ask themselves, “Is this the kind of behavior that I want to reinforce?” If the answer is no, we politely hold the hard line.

    Even as a manager, I very, very rarely give a rude customer priority over everyone else simply because he demanded to speak with me. But if he explains to me reasonably what his situation is and how I can help him, I will bend over backward to get him what he needs. My people have this same latitude and appreciate being enlisted as part of finding and implementing the customer’s solution.

  5. Kara, your note is so refreshing. I actually pondered whether I would even post this thread and I’m happy I did after seeing the response. Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. I’ve been asking myself and my co-workders lately; Are you truly a “people person”, or are you a person whom desires confrontation?

    Service should be seemless and transparent.

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