How to Get What You Want from Customer Service

When a company or business tells me they can’t do something, (when I know full well they can,) it really grates on me. Especially when I know I’m going to get what I need anyway, I see it as just a way of wasting my time. Some people accept the answer they receive. Here’s my advice: Don’t. Here’s a tip on how to get what you want from customer service.

Be Persistent

If you speak to someone on the phone and they tell you they can’t do something, ask to speak to a manager. Sometimes you might be speaking with an intern or low level staffer who legitimately doesn’t know the policy. Other times it may be someone who just doesn’t want to do the extra work. Remain calm but be firm. You can very often get what you want.

Recently I was assembling documents to file my taxes and needed my giving statement for a non-profit I donate to. As I move around quite a bit I wasn’t surprised that the mailed statement had not arrived. I called the organization and spoke with a young woman whom I’ll call, “Donna.” She informed me that because I was in the system under two addresses, there were two separate records for me. I had given a monthly gift for 12 months straight and then three other separate, larger gifts. She told me the amount and information for the one account, said she would look up the other and merge the records together and email me both statements and to call her back if I didn’t receive them.

10 minutes later I’d received an email, but only with the one statement showing the 12 monthly gifts and amount she had told me. I waited another 30 minutes but nothing else came through. So I called up the organization, went through the phone options, and asked to speak with her again. I reached, “James” I’ll call him who told me Donna wasn’t available but maybe he could help. I explained the situation to which he said a statement was mailed, and if I hadn’t received it they could definitely put another one in the mail. ┬áNice guy. But nice guys can still waste time, even without knowing it.

Ask Questions

After I verified my information I asked him just to give me the figures over the phone and save us both the time and hassle. Hames said they weren’t allowed to do that. I told him the young woman did just that 30 minutes ago. “Was Donna wrong?” James said she was and she should not have.

Now this is important to note. James may very well have been telling me what he believed to be true. I couldn’t tell you the sheer number of times that a customer service rep has told me they, “can’t do anything,” only to for me to retort right back, “Actually I spoke with person X last week and he did it for me. That call was on this date at this time and their ID number was 12345.”

James may very well have believed what he was saying, or been confused about what I wanted or just not knew the official policy. Furthermore, he may have known the policy very well and been correct. Maybe he was right and the Donna was wrong. Always keep your tone with customer service reps respectful, but again, firm. Regardless of if he was right or wrong, when it comes to time, I still don’t want to waste it. And I needed this information now, not a week later through the mail at an address I wouldn’t be at.

The goal is to get what you want, not to cause a scene, no matter how good it might make you feel for a brief moment.

The goal is to get what you want, not to cause a scene. Remember to be respectful.

“Well James, Donna did just provide me with this information so I know it is possible to give it to me over the phone. In order to save my time and because I am a donor generously giving to your organization, I’d like you to please put me through to someone who can accommodate this request for me.” I stated.

James said alright and asked me to hold. A few minutes later I was on the line with another guy, I assume some type of supervisor, who provided me exactly what I asked for. He confirmed the dates of donations and total amount for the year and that was it. It’s a great organization and mission I support so I’m happy to contribute to them.

In short, this might have been one person who wasn’t sure of the policy, or even a person who acted against the policy. But by and large there is almost always a way to acquire what you need, just as long as you are firm, respectful and make it clear you believe your solution should be accepted. Instead of accepting an answer that, “We can’t do that.” And having to wait a week or more for a physical letter, I simply spoke firmly and stated what I believed they definitely could do for me. I got what I needed and saved myself the time of waiting.