Scott M. Broetzmann, president of the research firm Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, which conducts the National Consumer Rage Survey, Alexandria, Virginia. CustomerCareMC.com
If dealing with customer service on the phone has left you hopping mad, you’re not alone. According to the latest National Consumer Rage Survey, 63% of consumers felt enraged when trying to resolve problems such as defective products, lousy service or unexpected charges. What’s more, about half reported getting nothing for all their efforts.
Scott M. Broetzmann, president and CEO of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC), which has conducted the survey since 2003 in collaboration with the Center for Services Leadership at the WP Carey School of Business, says dissatisfaction with customer service has reached a boiling point because nationwide labor shortages have led most companies to substitute automated phone trees and chatbots for live agents or outsource their customer-service operations to business processing outsourcers (BPOs). BPO agents stick closely to prewritten scripts and are limited in what they can do to solve your problems.
Broetzmann’s three secrets for achieving better results with less aggravation when dealing with customer service…
Go to GetHuman.com to bypass automated phone trees. Search by company to find out phone numbers and shortcuts to reach a live agent. Also: You’ll have shorter wait times if you call as soon as customer-service hours of operation begin.
In the first 15 seconds of the call, tell the customer-service agent your problem and how you want to be compensated. Example: “I had a bad experience staying at the hotel, I want the cost of the room refunded. Can you do that for me?” Many customers dance around the issue of compensation and launch into detailed stories of how they were wronged. In our survey, 43% of consumers admitted to yelling at an agent on the phone. Reality check: Venting your frustrations just confuses agents about what you want. Stating a specific request calmly and upfront not only forces you to think about what will satisfy you (a refund? an apology? a voucher for a future discount?), it also allows you to sidestep a lot of conflict. If agents need additional details about your grievance to help you, they will ask.
Another advantage of conciseness: You learn right away if the agent has the authority to grant your request. If he/she can’t, you either consider the solution/compensation offered or ask who does have the appropriate authority so you can escalate your complaint to a supervisor.
Decide ahead of time when you will give up. Resolving a problem typically requires persistence. The consumers in our survey had to make an average of three separate contacts with a company to settle their disputes. Deciding when to cut your losses sounds counterintuitive, but it allows you to feel more in control of the process, better focused and less upset about the costs of your time and effort. Example: I ordered a pizza from a national chain and paid a $2.99 surcharge to have it rush delivered. The pizza wound up taking twice as long as normal to arrive. When I called the customer-service hotline to complain, I decided ahead of time to spend no more than two minutes trying to get the surcharge removed or I’d let it go.