In an ideal world, we’d all have the things we need, exactly how we need them, obtained by working together in consumerist harmony.
In reality, sometimes we buy the wrong thing. Or we buy the right thing, but it’s broken. Or the thing we bought never comes at all. Put simply: Sometimes we have to get in touch with customer service.
In the digital age, there are many ways to do so: There are “live chats,” email addresses, chatbots and phone numbers, all at our disposal to attempt and rectify the situation. It’s good news! And yet, far too often, it’s easy to forget that there’s another human person on the other end of that chat or 1-800 number.
Customer service calls can be… charged, to put it lightly. But as the old adage says, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar. The same rings true in customer service scenarios, in which you, one person, are typically connected to another person ― who could be handling any number of other issues.
“Customers should understand that their ticket is not the only one an agent is working on, Chad Ramsey, CX manager at Promix Nutrition, told HuffPost. “It’s understandable that to a customer, their issue may seem like the most urgent issue. But we are actively putting out other fires.”
There’s no hard and fast way to make the customer service experience more effective (aka, getting what you need – quickly). But there are some things to keep in mind that might help things go your way and create a more pleasant experience for everyone.
Resist the urge to DM.
These days, brands are ever-present on social media, blurring the lines between employees and the company they work for. That rings especially true for small business owners, who are the face of the brand and the brand itself.
Julie Mollo, a Brooklyn-based designer who makes custom clutches, told HuffPost that when you’re having an issue, sliding into a brand’s DMs, which often get “lost in the shuffle,” is not advised.
“Email. Do not DM, it makes everything messy,” she said. “Running a small business and having a public-facing profile where I am the face of the brand, people think I’m available to them like a friend would be ― and I appreciate that. But when it comes to customer service, you don’t want order issues mashed in with reactions to a vacation. Keep everything in one place. If you’re able to reply to your order confirmation, so that everything stays in one thread, great. If not, please refer to the contacts on a given website for specific customer service issues.”
In the era of online shopping, chances are the item you’re having an issue with was purchased online ― meaning there should be an order number or digital proof of purchase somewhere hiding in the mix of your inbox.
Ramsey stressed the importance of finding that number, along with any pertinent information, before picking up the phone. That information might include “steps to reproduce an error, screenshots or pictures,” or “anything that can help resolve the request,” he said.
He also suggested having other information handy, too. “If you’re the type of person that has several email addresses, let the agent know which one is tied to the account for a more prompt resolution.”
Treat small and large businesses similarly.
When you’re dealing with a huge corporation, it’s hard not to feel like you’re just screaming into the void with a customer service issue. When you’re dealing with a small business, it’s hard to remember that you’re not, in fact, the only person the business owner is dealing with at that moment.
Regardless of the size of the business, Mollo said it’s important to always remember to lead with kindness.
“Mistakes get made; don’t take it out on the representative,” she said. “I will get DMs, comments or messages somewhere about an issue, and you have to think ― is this how you would handle your Target order?”
Try your very best to stay calm.
Things can get heated pretty quickly on a customer service call, but losing your cool is, well, very uncool. Not only does it create a more stressful scenario for you and the person you’re talking to, but it’s also not an effective way to get your problem solved.
“Customer service is there to help as best as possible, but berating the agent that’s there to assist you will not lead to a prompt resolution and may even get you barred from doing business with a company again,” Ramsey said. “Explaining your situation in a clear, concise manner so that the agent can help will lead to the desired outcome.”
Most importantly, just be a person, talking to another person.
Ultimately, there’s no “secret code” to crack to get someone to do something you want. Or if there is, it’s not a secret. It’s just: Be nice. It certainly can’t hurt, and — who knows — you might even leave the interaction with something above and beyond what you asked for.
“We want you to be happy,” Mollo said. “Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone, even if they’re projecting a different viewpoint on social media, is going through something. Whether you’re dealing with the direct owner of a small business or one of many customer reps from a huge corporation, nobody wants an angry customer.”