How many times have you been fed up with the customer service of a company you do business with? How long have you sat on the phone arguing with the automated operator? Been transferred to an overseas call center only to speak with someone you can barely understand because of a heavy foreign accent? As companies outsource and digitize their customer service, it decreases our opportunity to negotiate a deal. Social media has given consumers a voice online, but there is still a need for human interaction. Whether it's in person, on the phone, or through email, here are a few tricks of the trade that will help lower your bills and create opportunities to score a deal.
The front line phone reps are constantly cursed at, threatened, or belittled several times a day. That kind of abuse can set off the phone rep to drop your call or transfer you back to an automated server. Most companies count on the customer to give up, but the truth is they can make things right if you reach the right person. Instead of giving up, I like to try representative roulette and keep calling until I find someone willing to help me. Majority of companies do not allow low-level employees to make many decisions. Try asking them if this is something they are authorized to do? Seek out the retention department as it has the most power to bend the rules in your favor. If you hint that you are going to leave and take your business elsewhere, they may offer you a better deal. Companies work just as hard to get new customers as they do to keep old ones. Tell them your bill is too high and you can't afford it. You want to scale back your package or you'll be forced to cancel your service. If you have paid your bills on time and have been a loyal customer, acting disloyal can actually get results when you threaten to take your business to a competitor. You'll be amazed at what they might offer to keep your business.
We tend to get defensive when someone complains, but if you start on a positive note, the listener may be more receptive to your complaint. Try holding your temper and killing the representative with kindness. You'll already have the advantage over most people and flattery can really pay off. I like to start off a complaint by saying I'm really surprised this happened because I've always had such a good experience with this company. People generally want to help someone they like, so employ humor and use that charm. Positive feelings can be generated quickly with a few simple tricks. Always catch the rep's name and use it during conversation. When you personalize a request, people are more likely to give you a positive response. Ask how they are doing or what's the weather like where they live. We typically pay more attention to those who pay attention to us. Take it easy on the person, but hard on the problem. Be specific with the problem you are having and what it would take to fix it. Your delivery counts, so be grateful and polite. You want to come across as a reasonable person who's deserving of help and likely to stay a loyal customer if satisfied.
If you feel the customer service agent is helpful, tell them you are so impressed that you'd like to send a positive letter to their supervisor. Do this before you ask for a major request, but this will get the agent more motivated to help you. Make sure to follow through if they do help you, but it never hurts to try and reach out to a supervisor. Believe it or not, the top executives want to hear from you and this old technique can really work. Thanks to Google, you can easily find emails and phone numbers to high ranking executives at companies both large and small. Executives who are sensitive about the reputation of their company have special staff dedicated to solving problems quickly. Reach out and see what happens, you might find someone motivated to help you. If things still don't go your way, try posting your complaint on the business's Facebook page and mention them on Twitter. Most companies have departments dedicated to social media customer care to ensure their brands are protected.
Sometimes you don't have to fight back when you've been a good customer. Quit complaining all together and use these tricks to get better treatment and more perks upfront. Many companies have some type of reward program that will ultimately benefit you somehow. Airline loyalty and frequent flyer miles can add up to earn you better service at the airport and free plane tickets! Anytime you fly, no matter what airline, make sure to join the miles reward program. Redeeming those miles may seem like a process, but there are plenty of different freebies to choose from even if you only fly round-trip just once. Travel with the right card and earn points or cash back at hotels and retail shopping stores. Loyalty can really be rewarding if you continue to be a familiar face and shop at the same place. Points can add up to free stuff quickly when you enroll in company reward programs. Many companies will even reward you for referrals when your friends sign up or make a purchase at participating stores.