Talking to Customer Service

Ever had a device fail? Unexplained charges on a bill? General confusion? Of course you have. And we’ve all called customer service at some time to complain/berate/get help.

But it takes two to tango— and customer service can’t do its job if you make your problem worse. Here are ways to avoid that and get what you need:

Keep a good attitude. Remind yourself (out loud if you must) that “they” did not cause the problem. The voice on the other end of the phone belongs to a human being, paid by an employer to diagnose errors and give instructions that are easy to follow. Often that human lives in India or Pakistan, and usually that employee has to follow a strict protocol to process customers as effectively as possible.

This means it is not their fault if they fail to understand American idioms, and it is not their fault if they give robotic statements and ask obvious questions. Customer service is only their job.

Being human also means that they are not guaranteed to solve your problem. You may spend an hour on the phone to learn that you need to call and entirely different service. It happens.

Communicate mindfully. Customer service is not a free therapy session, so don’t try crying, yelling, whining, or otherwise regressing to a toddler.

First, write down what the problem is. Make your words as specific as possible, and include details relevant only to the problem. (Nobody cares that you haven’t had enough coffee today.)

Talk clearly over the phone. Smile if you can muster it— it makes you sound easier to work with.

Present your problem as logically as you can. Step by step, go through how you discovered something was wrong. Or if you have a question or request, explain what you intend to do/learn, and ask how to get there.

If they give you instructions, follow them as they say.

Some hints. Call centers become mobbed on Mondays and Fridays, as well as around lunchtime. Calling earlier in the day is better than later.

If you can transform your frustration into information, customer service becomes less of a hassle.

Alexander Carl

Alexander Carl

I find it difficult to brag about myself. Too modest? Perhaps.

Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.

Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.

I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.

Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.

Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.
Alexander Carl

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