5 Reasons You’re Not Getting What You Want From Customer Service

Stop yelling. Just stop.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Because of the pandemic, more people than ever are relying on phone and online support in just about every industry. Chances are you had some issues on Christmas Day that led you to call someone for help. Were you satisfied? Did you get what you want? If you didn’t, you probably did one of these things:

1. Screaming.

Screaming gets bare minimum service, or support may even hang up on you. We do not have to take your abuse, and a lot of us won’t. Many customer service reps are trained to de-escalate you, they understand you’re frustrated, but this only goes so far. Besides, would you go out of your way to help someone who is yelling at you? People who yell are the least likely to be reasonable, so they’re the least likely to get what they want. Service reps know the customer is definitely not always right. We also don’t care about you, we’re faking empathy to get through the interaction quickly, since we’re given only so long per call.

Do us a favor, stop yelling and simply tell us what the issue is.

And don’t get mad if we ask you to repeat something, or ask you to say it a different way. We don’t know what options to give you without fully understanding the issue, and sometimes you describe things in a way that makes no sense to us. Questions are just our way of clarifying and confirming the problem, they don’t mean we’re dumb or we don’t understand.

2. Asking for a manager is a waste of time.

All companies have set procedures for handling specific issues. The manager’s job is to do their best to stick to company policy. They are far too experienced dealing with screamers to just give in. Every company knows what they will or will not do, and you’re not special enough for an exception. Odds are the manager is merely going to repeat what the person before them said. Does it make you feel better to hear the exact same thing from someone “higher up?” Which leads me to number 3.

3. You don’t even know who you’re talking to.

It might not even be a “manager.” How would you know? I have friends in call centers who say when someone asks for a manager, they just hand their headset to the person sitting next to them. Or the “manager” is the person who’s been there the longest, and so has a lot more experience telling problem customers no. They usually don’t have any more power than the first person you dealt with. You know darn well the manager is still going to say no, so why waste everyone’s time?

4. Don’t ask for something a reasonable person wouldn’t ask for.

No, your warranty doesn’t mean they’ll ship you a new one for free right away. If it’s an expensive device, the company is going to want the broken one back first, or will ask you to pay the full cost of a new one up front, then refund you when they get the damaged one. Yes, they don’t trust you. Why should they? For all they know, your current device is not really broken, and you’re trying a scam. People try it every day. And no, it doesn’t matter how nice you are, they won’t take your word for it. And yes, your sob story is the same one they’ve heard a million times. And we always laugh at people who say “don’t you know who I am?”

5. What difference does it make where in the world we are?

There are a lot of call centers in India, deal with it. It’s what many, many large corporations do to save money. But “Steve from Wichita” has access to the exact same system being used in the US. Their screens are the same, the things they can do is the same, so why make an issue of it? The service you’re going to get is the same. I’m not sure why people don’t get this.

Maybe you don’t understand how call centers work. Maybe you believe they have a script, which they do, but it’s more than that. First there’s the stock phrases. These insure consistency from call to call, and sometimes the verbiage is specific because of liability issues. Then there’s the software, which shows the CS rep options based on what your issue is. If you say A, they say B. If you say C, they say D. Like I said, it doesn’t matter where the call center is, the options are the same. Asking for someone in the US gets you nothing.

Maybe you’re having trouble understanding their accent. It happens. What I don’t get is why you think that because you don’t understand them, they must be stupid. Or why you think people in foreign call centers don’t have feelings just like yours.

Bonus: Don’t bother saying you’ll never buy from them again.

If it’s a popular or well known company, they know you will. Even if you don’t, your business isn’t big enough to matter, even if you say you’ll post on social media or tell all your friends. Every big company gets negative reviews all the time, and that hasn’t put them out of business, so why should your opinion matter? Get over yourself.

Here are some better ways to handle the call you make:

1. Be nice. You’d be surprised the number of times I heard a colleague say “If they’d been polite I would have done more for them. But since they weren’t, fuck ‘em.”

2. Be logical. State your issue calmly and succinctly. We know you’re frustrated, but if you make the effort to be calm, and your request is reasonable, it is more likely to work in your favor.

3. Be open to compromise. Sometimes you won’t get exactly what you want, the way you want it. But often you will be offered a solution that comes close.

The important thing to remember is that the person on the other end of the line is a human being just trying to get through their day. People seem to think that because they’re not face to face (and sometimes even when they are), that they can treat us horribly. The pandemic seems to have made everyone mean and angry, and those providing customer service seem to be taking the brunt of it.

Could you deal with angry people all day, every day, and not have it affect you?

Do us a favor and get it out of your system before you call us. Yell at your cat (they’re used to it.)

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George “Ace” Acevedo

Writer. Voice actor. Noisemaker. Visual Artist. Cleaner of litter boxes.