One of my readers, Burntoast left a comment on one of my post which triggered some happy and unhappy memories when I was a Customer Service Manager at a call centre nd inspired this article. The comment as below:

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.04.11 pm

As a consumer, I do know how frustrating it is to wait for half an hour, only to ‘speak’ to a machine and after pressing several numeric choices, you ended up speaking to a customer service officer who can’t do anything for you except to repeat herself “Sorry Sir, it is against our company’s policy.” Until you want to pull your hairs from its root. I know how it feels to try to get your point across to the customer service officers from the bank, the telcos and the government offices. I have been there.

But…a very big BUT please don’t take it out of the customer service officers. If they are incompetent, it is not their fault. It is the fault of the company. Not the individual fault. In fact, I rather you blame it on the managers than the frontline staff. Now let me disclose 8 tips to how to get your way around the hotline frustrations.

1. Hotline is called Hotline for a reason
If the line is not hot enough, it’s a cold line. Companies usually don’t hire enough customer service officers to man the line especially in first world countries. I had the same problem in Singapore, waiting on the line for hours. However, I don’t have the same problem in China because of their low costs in manpower. I get to speak to my bank’s customer service representative within the second ring.

So how do you avoid long waiting hours on the line? You can circumvent this by not calling the toll-free 1800 number instead all the hotlines have international number to call from when you’re overseas. If you don’t mind the charges, use it and it will get you a representative fairly quicker because their system will indicate you are calling from overseas.

S4541GKUE42. I don’t want to talk to a machine
No one like to hear “Press 1 for English, Press 2 for….”. When you call in, you want to speak to a human being and quickly too. There are two ways to go about it:

– Firstly, you can memorize the sequence of their automated menu. Usually it will be “Press 1 for English, Press 1 for credit card, Press 0 to speak to a customer service representative” so it’s 1-1-0. But not all companies’ automation menu is like that so you’ll still need to go through the menu the first round, after which you can note it down for future. Call centers don’t change their automation menu frequently unless there is a new service or an overhaul is needed so it still make sense for you to write it down.

– Secondly, if it is the bank you are calling, there is a direct number to press for lost of credit card in the automation menu, and it will get you to a customer service representative immediately. Don’t abuse it too often but use it when you are genuinely in a hurry and the representative will not ask you to call back the proper channel but instead transfer you directly to the respective department.

argument-238529_6403. Watch your language
For God sake, don’t curse or swear. In any language. It never do anyone good and you’ll just isolate the customer service representative and have them put up their defense wall. You want them on your side. They are the ones who are going to advocate your cause if you can help them understand your problem and persuade them to be on your side. Good call centers  have regulations in place to empower representatives to hang up on you if you use vulgarity on the phone.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 3.26.42 pm4. Watch your tone of voice
Please don’t scream or shout. It will make us nervous. As it is when facing an angry customer on the phone is enough to send jitters down our spine, please don’t shout because we wore headsets all day and our ears are pretty sensitive, plus all the shouting will not allow us to take down any details instead we will just make you angrier by asking you to repeat yourself. If you are hopping mad, just say so in a firm clear voice, there’s no need to scream your frustration into the phone.

woman-791874_6405. Be Understanding
If the person you are talking to over the phone, is unable to apprehend your issue. Be patient and try to use analogy or layman terms with them. Understand that no one with a Masters or PhD will be working in frontline and companies usually cut costs by hiring people who are not as highly educated. So there is really no point to get yourself work up over them. If your bank hires over-qualified customer service representative, you’ll be sure that the costs of that will be transfer to you either by increasing the price of their products or services.

woman-851446_6406. State what you want
Instead of going on and on about your problem, hoping they can come up a solution for you, come up with a solution yourself. Let them choose what is within their empowerment to grant you. You’ll cut short the time you are on the call with them. Of course, be realistic and don’t ask for the sky.

“Hi, I am Kally and I am a customer of your credit card, I recently received a bill that includes a charge of an overdue amount that I was not aware of as I was traveling during the entire last month. Could you please waive the charge and I will make the full overdue amount and this month’s amount by end of today?”
This will give the customer service representative enough justification to waive the charge because (a) you’re traveling for the whole month (b) you are willing to pay the full amount now.

TB2vtH0eVXXXXbyXXXXXXXXXXXX-589447517. Call for the sup 
If you know it is a problem that can’t be solved by the representative, ask for the duty supervisor or the floor manager. Don’t go on in circles with the customer service representative hoping they will back down. It doesn’t work that way. Managers are there for a reason and they are higher paid than the representatives for a reason too. So ask for them. However, do keep in mind that the managers themselves might have their hands tied as well if your request is difficult. In that case, have them escalate up and up until you have a resolution. Just make sure your problem is not the petty kind or you are just asking for freebies. I had escalated on a mobile warranty issue, 5 ranks above the representative before I get the answer I want.

8. Ultimately……
Don’t let it spoil your day.

Do you find the above tips useful? Let me know by leaving me a comment below. Come and join me at my Twitter: MiddleMe_net.

50 replies on “Let’s us all be a better customer

  1. On and off for the past three years, I’ve worked as a Customer Service Representative on the phone in higher education student services. Headsets don’t hurt my head, but being on the phone all day with customers queuing on the phone does make the team a bit anxious. The longer the wait, the more unhappy the customer might be.

    Interesting you say that employers don’t generally hire people in frontline roles as the ones you describe. In my work, half the team in the frontline on phones have said qualifications, and I’m one of them 😀 It really is comepetitive to get a job in Australia 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is different in western world countries comparing to Malaysia, China and India when comes to hiring frontliners. It depends on the company itself too but generally in call centre environment, the one of the key metrics is to keep cost low hence the educational level for front line staff is low as well. Of course, I have seen exceptions like American Express and Apple who appreciate the value of the CSR and know that you pay peanuts, you get monkey theory. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It is important to be empathetic to customer service reps, especially when you consider the fact that 9 out of 10 problems a customer experiences is at no fault to customer service. Be nice 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You get what you send out, kindness begets kindness. If the person had the power to change the system they wouldn’t be answering the phone. Great post and reminder in this increasingly automated world. Take a deep breath, count to 10, then call CS.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for that, because we are some nasty people when we want to be. Sometimes the customer can be rude, use profanity and just be smart mouth at the person who is just trying to earn a living. Me myself I believe in don’t give no one the reason to be ugly, either way that is a cashier or clerk.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 🙂 Excellent advice! And our training manager has even told us for the really upset customers, ask them how we can help resolve their complaint. This makes them feel more in control, which loss of control is usually what has them all fired up in the first place, and it shows them that you are willing to do anything to resolve their issue. Great post once again!

    Liked by 1 person

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