How To Get What You Want From Customer Service
With a whole lot of people shopping today as Amazon's "Prime Day" has grown to become a shopper's delight on par with Black Friday, we can be sure that in addition to the joy of catching a deal, plenty of people will also have buyer's remorse.
While plenty of online transactions go off without a hitch, we'll all face situations where we have to make returns, exchanges, and interact with customer service representatives.
I just had a situation that became rather complex, but I was able to settle it to my satisfaction with a combination of stubbornness, patience, and calm.
Here's what happened.
I'm a big baseball fan and have absolutely spent much more than I would want to add up on t-shirts, jerseys, and other assorted clothes, memorabilia, and knick knacks over the years.
About three weeks ago, an online retailer that I have shopped with for years was running a really good sale, so I bought myself a pair of t-shirts.
One of the problems with shopping online is the fact that you can't try things on first and sizes can vary greatly between manufacturers. When I got the t-shirts, they were too big.
I folded the shirts and put them on my bed, planning to pack them up when I got home from work.
And then I came home to this:
Yup, my dog ate the tags.
I called the customer service number, spoke to a representative and explained what happened. She was friendly, understanding, and even got a laugh out of the situation. She told me that she would send a request to her supervisor to allow me to exchange the items for a different size even though the tags were no longer attached.
I got an email only a few hours later with authorization to return the items, and the supervisor said that they would waive the restocking fee.
Flash forward a few weeks when I wake up this morning to an email from the company stating that my returns have been received and a full refund has been denied.
I immediately called.
The representative who I spoke to told me that one of the shirts would be refunded, less the $5 restocking fee, and the other was denied altogether for "not being in new condition".
When I asked to speak to a supervisor, the representative told me that her supervisor was "in a meeting" and unavailable to speak. She said that they don't call customers back and that I would have to "try again in about an hour".
Now look, I know how call centers work. I have a number of friends who have worked in call centers. I know that there is always a supervisor on the floor in some capacity.
But I didn't argue. I kept my cool and told her that I would indeed be calling back.
Which I did an hour later.
This time I got a representative who immediately transferred me to a supervisor.
I explained the situation to the supervisor, told her that I had previously spoken to a representative who told me that I could return the items, and pointed out the fact that I even included a copy of the email in the box with the items.
She told me that she understood the situation and would file for a full refund for both items, including a credit for the previously deducted restocking fee.
I truly believe that there is one big reason that I got what I wanted - I kept my cool.
I didn't yell, I didn't get nasty, I didn't take my frustration out on the people on the phone.
I get that customer service isn't an easy job, and that many who work in the field are the target of people's frustrations and anger every single day.
Yelling at the people on the other end of the phone will not only not help you, but you could hit a brick wall very quickly when the recipient of your frustration decides that they don't want to help you because of your attitude.
It can be hard to "kill them with kindness" when you're really irritated, but it's the best strategy to end the interaction in your favor.
I was ready to send a long email to the company's corporate headquarters explaining the situation and calling attention to the fact that I have spent an awful lot of money on their company over the years. But thankfully I didn't have to, because the supervisor took the time to help me out and solve the issue.
As they say, you do indeed catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
What are your strategies for dealing with customer service? Have you had any great (or awful) experiences? Comment below and share with the class!
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