Yesterday I wrote about the script I used in order to save $50 on my cell phone bill. I felt so empowered by that exercise that I thought, heck, let’s get professional with these call center shenanigans.
Thinking back on some of my most recent call center interludes I recall a conversation with my former car lease company that didn’t go all too well for me. It’s possible that I will spend approximately 7 fewer months on this Earth on account of it. With that in mind, I have scoured the intelligence embedded deep within the most trusted customer service expertise in the land, well my friends list anyway, so that I could find out how to always get the best deal from a call center representative.
Here is the process you should follow.
Understand & Research Your Problem
First things first, what is the problem you need to solve? I’m willing to bet that you aren’t the only person that has ever had your specific issue with this specific company. Turn to Dr. Google to research your problem. For example, I found a forum discussing lease end options with Subaru Motors Finance (aka Chase Automotive Finance) that would have proven quite helpful in my dispute with said financial services institution. You will also want to check out Complaint Board for a directory of complaints that you can search by issue or company.
Know Exactly What You Want
Your most important job during a conversation with a call center representative is to explain your problem, and the solution you desire, as concisely as possible. If you are not prepared in advance, then you might ramble. If you ramble, then the human mind of any call center representative is going to start zoning out. At least mine would. You need for that call center representative to get into a zone with you. Concise and to the point will help you with that goal.
Also, if your only point in calling is to yell at someone, then it would likely be more productive if you just vented with a friend. Give your time purpose.
Gather What You Need Beforehand
I cannot count how many times I have called a call center without even having my account number handy. The more prepared you are, the more sound you will be during the call, and the more you can concentrate on getting what it is that you need. So, find your last statement, any communications you may need to refer back to, and any other documentation you may need. Compile this along with the written note that contains your problem and the solution as mentioned above.
Record The Call
This is something I now do out of habit. Last year I cancelled a credit card, but when I checked my credit report almost a year later I saw that I owed $75 on that particular card, and the card was still open. Turns out that they didn’t actually cancel the card. I called them back, and I had to spend over an hour speaking to four different individuals. Each of them tried to get me to pay a $75 membership fee for a card I had cancelled a year ago. I kept on asking, “Do you mean you have no record of my having called to cancel?” Had I recorded that call, then I would have had the information I needed.
Be Prepared to Keep Detailed Records
Be sure to document the date, time, phone number you called, options you pressed on the automated system, names of any representatives you spoke to, and any confirmation numbers provided. Oh, and notes from the discussion you had, of course.
Find a Real Person to Talk To
In my attempt to get a real person as soon as possible, I have been tempted to just press 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 until I hear the perfectly imperfect voice of a human. I do have to say, though, that having enough patience to, say, enter my account number, has saved me time later on by not having to be handed off to another call center representative that could better help me. Be sure to check out GetHuman for all sorts of helpful information on how to get a human on the line. Here is the information I received by searching for Chase Auto Finance on their site.
Also, it doesn’t always pay to immediately talk to the boss’s boss’s boss. Companies do put thought into how they handle tiered customer service, and you won’t always get the best deal if you speak to the boss’s boss’s boss first.
Be Human Yourself
This is, by far, the most important advice I am providing in this post. Earlier when I told you that your most important job was to be concise in stating your problem and the solution you wanted, well, I was only telling half the story. The most important thing you can do is to concisely state your problem and the solution you desire while remembering not to be a jerk. I have advise from real live call center representatives, as well as official research and analysis, which shows that those that get the best deal:
- include a clear purpose for their call
- clearly provide account and contact information
- detail any other ways you have reached out to the company
- are polite with higher number of “please” and “thank you” heard throughout the call
It’s simple social science. To be effective you have to get the person on the other line to relate to you, relate to your issue, and, in short, like you. Here is what one call center representative had to say on the matter:
“I have worked in a call center for going on 14 years. Being nice is the best way to go. Asking for a supervisor doesn’t always get you what you want/need. I am more willing to assist and go above and beyond my normal job duties to help a pleasant customer rather than one being rude. Just be calm and explain the situation. When a customer comes on the line yelling about what I did to them personally or telling me what I am going to do for them I actually feel myself shutting down.”
Plus, being nice just feels better. One of my friends said that he always tries his best to make the person at the other end smile and feel like they are talking to a real human. I’m betting he gets very good deals from call center representatives since they often serve as a final frontier for bullying.
Make Them Want You More Than You Want Them
This goes back to yesterday’s advice in negotiating the best cell phone rate. The first rule of negotiating is “she who wants it least wins”. If you are calling your cable company, then make sure you have done research to build your case for why you should get a better deal. The closer you can get to being in a position where you can call them up and honestly say “I’d like to cancel my [enter product or service here]” the better deal you will get.
Escalate If You Don’t Get What You Want
You arrived with a purpose. You stated what you would like done about it. You were kind. Did you get a reasonable response? If so, then awesome. Move on with your day. If not, then there is no reason for you to ever feel stuck. If you made a request in good faith, and you are hearing radio silence, then ask to speak to a supervisor. In my case with Chase Auto Finance, my problem was that I did not know what a $600 line item listed in my lease end balance was for. The solution I requested was to understand what the $600 was for. The representative would not tell me what that $600 was for. I asked if someone else could explain this to me. He told me someone would have to call me back. I asked the representative for a time window, along with a number I should call if I do not hear back, which he provided. The individual did call me back, and she explained what the $600 was for. All was then well and right with the world.
Invest in Kindness
Here on this site, we are all about investing in kindness. If you received good service, then find out from that call center representative the best thing you can do to make sure their boss knows they did a good job. My research shows that answering those surveys is a very big deal. Sending good energy out into the world helps you too. The energy you put out there in the world will bounce off the world and come back to hit you in the face. Energy has karma, and good energy is better for everyone.