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How to Get Better Customer Service

There are few things more aggravating than trying to get some decent customer service. From navigating through an automated maze of numbers and pound signs to being put on hold while reluctantly listen to Enya’s entire first album, just reaching a living, breathing human can be a task of epic proportions. Next time you’re in need of customer service, follow these helpful guidelines to maximize the chance of talking to a live representative and to get the most out of your conversation.

Shop at places that are known for great customer service.
It would be one thing if IBM’s ultra-intelligent computer, Watson, was manning the phone lines, but sadly he’s too busy dominating on Jeopardy. Rather than struggling with run of the mill automated systems, make purchases at companies that use real people. Certain retailers like Nordstrom, Zappos, Urban Outfitters, Amazon, and more are known for their exceptional customer service. That’s reason enough to shop there first.

Call instead of email.
If you want your question answered in a timely manner, picking up the phone is the best bet. A recent study found that it takes an average of one minute and forty-one seconds to reach a live agent by phone compared to an average of seventeen hours to receive an email response.

Call at the right times.
We’re all human, even customer service agents (well, sometimes), and all require a break during the work day. Avoid calling during the typical lunch hour when there’s likely fewer people in the office. Instead call in the morning (8-11 a.m.) or mid-afternoon (2-5 p.m.) when most employees will be at their desks awaiting your call.

Call your representative by their name.
Studies have shown that people love the sound of their own names and that using a person’s name can help make him or her like you more, which in turn will make the representative more helpful. By using the representative’s name, they’ll feel more accountable, which will lead to a quicker resolution.

Play it cool.
Your mother taught you to mind your Ps and Qs for a reason: manners go a long way. Start off on the right foot by addressing your question or concern in a calm and collected manner. The customer service representative will be more willing to help if the customer is polite and not screaming requests. Keep in mind that your rep has no evil motives and is not trying to work against you. If anything it’s in his or her best interests to make sure you leave the call happy. And above all, remember that chances are your problem was not the representative’s fault.

Don’t settle for the first person you talk to.
If you get stuck talking to the one dude in the company who seemingly fell asleep during orientation, hang up and try again with a different person, or ask to be transferred to someone who can better address your concern. Sometimes you just need to be talking to the right person to get the right answer.

Use social media.
As the old business adage goes, “A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world.” Unlike companies’ private customer support emails, social media pages are public and one disgruntled customer could mean hundreds. If a company sees that somebody posted a complaint to their Facebook or Twitter page, someone in a position of authority will likely answer the question quickly in order to clear the company’s name.

Act just a little nutty.
Now this might seem counterintuitive to what’s suggested above, but if you’ve played the well-mannered card, blown up their Facebook page, and tried to speak to the boss, proceed with a stern voice and throw in just a hint of crazy. This is a last resort, but it’s worth a shot if you’ve exhausted all other avenues. Persistence may get you what you want by the mere fact that the representative will want to simply end the interaction.