Contacting customer service can seem like a daunting task. How do you get what you want? Here are 7 tips to improve your success when you contact customer service:
1. Know Where to Call
One of the most difficult things to know is what number to call when you have a customer service problem. When trying to reach your credit card customer service, there is usually a number on the back of the card. You can also usually find a specific number to report fraud, if you are a victim of identity theft. Other customer service numbers can be found on official web sites, as well as with the owner's manual of a product that you buy. Knowing where to call can significantly reduce the amount of time you are on hold.
2. Get Your Information Together
Before you call, gather information about the product, including the serial number and other identifying characteristics. If you still have the receipt, have that on hand for reference. Also, have a good idea of what the problem is. You can practice describing the problem before you call.
3. Know What Outcome You Consider Acceptable
Decide which outcomes are interested in. In many cases, you can find better success if you articulate what you want: Replacement, refund, or repair. In cases of identity theft, you'll want assurances that your account is being closed, and that you are getting a new account. With your credit card, ask if your rewards will be transferred to your new account. In many cases, this is possible with identity theft. Decide on which compromises you'll make before you call.
4. Be Aware of Your Account History
Take a look at your account history. Or, if you are a long-time customer, be prepared to share this information. Good customers are often treated better when it comes to customer service and seeing a successful outcome. Let the customer service representative know that you are generally happy with the company, and you want to continue to be a loyal customer, but you have a problem that needs to be resolved first.
5. Speak Politely
After you've laid the groundwork for your call, make sure that you are polite. Try to keep your tone moderated, and avoid escalating. If the customer service representative you get first can't help, you can ask "Who should I talk to about _____?" You can also ask for help regarding the particulars of requesting a refund, or how you can get a product repaired.
6. Negotiate Using Other Offers
Whether you are asking for a lower interest rate on your credit card, lower-priced Internet service, or a better TV package, you can negotiate (politely) using other offers. If you have received other offers in the mail, or see other offers advertised in the newspaper or on TV, you can use that as a point for negotiation. Emphasize that you are a loyal customer, and give the company a chance to match the better offer in order to keep your business.
7. Be Ready to Walk Away
In some cases, you need to show that you are ready to walk away. Be prepared to transfer your balance to another credit card if you don't get a lower rate. Consider switching to another Internet provider or TV provider if the company isn't willing to deal with you. You have to be in a position to make good on this threat, though. If you can't get a product replacement or refund, you can also mention that you will be writing a review of your experience, and that you will be buying from a competitor in the future. Do this in as level tone as you can, remaining polite throughout.