6 Tips to Get What You Want From Customer Service

Ever since the first telephone conversation back in 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell admonished his assistant, Thomas Watson “to come here, Mr. Watson, I want you,” U.S. businesses have had to deal with customer complaints.

Companies pay consultants millions to learn how to say “no” to customers in myriad ways. What can you, the customer, do to turn that “no” into “yes”?

The short answer is simple, as you saw in the video above: Know what you want, call as early in the day as possible; be nice and be persistent.

1. Know what you want

You need a plan – and a goal – going into any customer complaint call. Is it getting your credit card interest rate reduced? Is it getting an overdraft charge at a bank reversed? Or is it getting some compensation from your cable company for the two-day outage that knocked your phone, Internet and televisions service out of commission? Having defined, committed goals going into a complaint call helps you keep your eyes on the prize.

Tip: Write down your goal and place it front of you as you make the call. Every time the conversation is diverted, re-read your goal.

2. Call early

You can get ahead on a customer complaint call by reaching out early in the day. Studies show that when customer service agents are fresh and alert, they are more accommodating to consumer demands.

Tip: Call first thing in the morning. Aim to be the first caller of the day.

3. Be nice

Stay calm, be nice and have the patience of a saint. Any display of rage works against you. It also distracts from Tip #1, which is to be clear about your goals going into the call.

Tip: Don’t think “fire” – think “ice.” After all, revenge is a dish best served cold. This is especially critical on any face-to-face customer service complaint.

4. Be persistent

Customer service professionals are good people – it’s just that they’re trained to be bad customer service reps. They’ll use any trick in the book to delay, obfuscate or otherwise use any means at their disposal to keep you from getting what’s rightfully yours.

If you’re not getting anywhere with the service rep, ask them to put you on the line with a manager – they’re usually the decision-makers, anyway, and can often play the “good cop” versus the customer service agent’s “bad cop.”

Tip: When you get a customer service agent on the line, ask right away if he or she has the authority to handle your complaint: Can he reverse a charge or knock down an interest rate? If not, move up to a “higher power” who can actually help you out.

5. Take good notes

Here’s a good tip: Use GoogleDocs to take notes during the call or meeting. GoogleDocs has a date stamp, which is handy in future calls, and it allows you organize the conversation in notepad form.

Tip: Know that, in the end, the winner of any customer service complaint is the one who keeps better records. Make no mistake; companies are counting on you not keeping good records.

6. It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Remember that complaining to customer service is usually a marathon, and not a sprint.

Your first step is always to go back and attempt to resolve the problem with the company. If you give the company a chance to address your complaint, it very often will — especially if you approach customer service reps with politeness and courtesy.

But if you can’t get satisfaction over the phone, or via e-mail, it’s time to put your complaint in writing. Draft a short, detailed letter outlining your dispute and send it to the company via certified mail. Before you send it, make a few copies, so you can save one for your records and send another copy to your credit card company, if needed, as proof of your efforts to resolve the dispute. If you bought the item with a credit card, you may have more rights and advantages than you realize.

The key is successful complaining to act quickly and responsibly, addressing the company in a courteous fashion.

You may not get what you want on the first phone call, but if you follow the tips listed above, chances are the matter can be resolved to your satisfaction.

Brian O’Connell, a former Wall Street bond trader, is an author and writer with two Book of the Month Club titles and bylines in national media platforms such as The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, CBS MarketWatch, The Street.com, Yahoo Finance and CNBC.com, among others.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
My Favorite Amazon Purchases From 22 Years of Shopping There
My Favorite Amazon Purchases From 22 Years of Shopping There

Yes, I’ve been shopping on Amazon since the 1990s. These are among my most beloved buys.

These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire
These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire

If you expect to have modest retirement income, you may want to avoid spending your golden years here.

10 Places Where Social Security Offers the Best Standard of Living
10 Places Where Social Security Offers the Best Standard of Living

These U.S. counties offer retirees a chance to stretch their benefit checks while enjoying their golden years.

The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance
5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance

Auto insurance will cost you more than three times as much in one state compared with another. Here’s how to lower your rates no matter where you live.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items
Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items

Some surprise price jumps are making life more difficult for consumers.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021
7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021

These projects will take a bigger bite out of your budget than in the recent past.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.