lots-of-fish

As much as we wish nothing would ever break or get screwed up, life just doesn’t work that way. Products aren’t made to last forever, people don’t show up when they said they would, and all kinds of things go wrong with service providers all the time.

A glitch in the cable box messed up your dvr recording, the flight you paid too much for is delayed and oversold, the waitress completely forgot your order, your dry cleaning is missing when you go to pick it up, your hosting company had a server outage again, etc., etc. It can be a nightmare sometimes trying to handle bad customer service.

Silent And Clueless Customers

Some people never bother to put up a fight when they have a bad customer service experience. And others don’t even realize what’s going on. Don’t get stuck in this group. There are too many businesses competing for your business these days for you to tolerate bad service. I used to be a silent customer, figuring it was a waste of my time to file a complaint, until I got wise and had enough.

Businesses love silent and clueless customers because they are nice and never put up a fuss. These easygoing folks keep paying their bills without question because they can’t be bothered to ask for a refund or a lower rate. It’s the perfect way for your cable and phone company to rip you off. Take 5 minutes to call in and ask them for a better deal, don’t let them get away with overcharging you or missing their service window!

Screaming And Making Threats

We’ve all seen someone lose their cool before when things didn’t go their way. It’s pretty embarrassing to watch and perhaps it’s happened to you before. Trying to handle bad customer service can create a lot of stress and some people only know how to handle stress by getting angry and yelling. My dad can be this way and it is mortifying. It’s one of his characteristics that I want nothing to do with and I avoid making a scene at all costs.

However, from what I’ve witnessed, it seems that the screamers tend to get their way the most, especially when on site, because the person they’re addressing wants to shut them up as quickly as possible. I’ve never started yelling at someone or made threats myself, but I’d imagine my blood pressure would rise and I’d probably get filled with anger in order to be convincing. That’s just not my style, and I don’t think it ever will be.

Methods For Handling Bad Customer Service

Although I haven’t gotten everything I’ve wanted when I’ve had to handle these kinds of situations before, here are some helpful tips I’ve learned.

  • Start with kindness and empathy – A little kindness can go a long way and sometimes just a smile and asking nicely will get you what you seek. From my own experience, women tend to be more receptive to kindness and empathy when confronted and it’s helped me get fees removed from my accounts, free meals when my flights have been delayed, and better replacement routes when my flights have been cancelled. Men on the other hand I feel are more receptive when I’ve been straight to the point when addressing them and skip the rambling on and on about grievances.
  • Know who you’re dealing with – the first person you speak with may not have the authority to put a credit on your account or send you a replacement part. Always ask to speak with a manager if your first attempt doesn’t work.
  • Come prepared – before you call in or walk up to the counter, have the date(s) of the incidents, order numbers, product IDs, receipts, account numbers, and payment info handy and ready to present.
  • Use an authoritative voice – speak with confidence when building your case and lower the register of your voice if you can. Deeper voices tend to carry more weight on the ear whereas mousy voices (like it or not) can come across as weak and unconvincing.
  • Be assertive, not violent – don’t put yourself in a worse position by throwing things or threatening to set the building on fire if you don’t get your money back. Most businesses are willing to come to a resolution with you if you state your case well and stay firm.
  • Take your business elsewhere – don’t put up with crappy service, especially if it becomes a frequent problem. There are plenty of competitors out there and lots of accessible online reviews for you to research a new company before making a switch. Just remember that no business is perfect!

Readers, what has been your most effective method for handling bad customer service?  Are you the type that sits back and shrugs, the kind who starts yelling and waving your arms wildly to get attention, or somewhere in between?  Any of you been on the receiving end of customers filing complaints?

Photo: Fish Chaos by Sam.