5 Ways to Get Better Customer Service
There have been many blog posts here about how you, as a freelancer, can give your clients great customer service and why it’s important. Let’s turn the tables for a minute and focus on how you, as a freelancer, can get better customer service.
When you are a freelancer, you don’t have a boss you can go complain to when something has happened to you. Maybe you were double charged when ordering something online or you had a terrible experience flying business class. As a freelancer, you run your own business, which means dealing with your own vendors.
As someone who owns a company, I have a lot of people I have to pay and deal with on a regular basis, including: my internet service provider, phone company, the lenders who let me borrow money for my small business, my credit and debit card companies, the web design team, and the woman hired to manage the distribution of our magazine.
Other people I deal with on a less frequent basis include the tech dude who helps with computer problems and issues with our printer/copier/fax machine. I also have a bookkeeper who manages the books and helps with the taxes. There’s also a lawyer thrown in there for good measure.
When you think about it—that’s a lot of people! And I’m not even mentioning the car repair guy (I drive a lot), the United States Postal Service (I mail a lot of stuff), and the stores where I buy supplies.
A freelancer’s life is stressful (look at all these bills!) and we have to deal with lots and lots of people. So what can you do when you feel like you aren’t getting the customer service you deserve and expect? Below are some tips on how you, as a customer, can get better customer service to make running your business a little easier.
While it’s many people’s job to give customers (like you) great customer service, your anger and insults can impact their mood, resulting in possibly not so great customer service. If there is a problem, try to stay calm and rational. Most mistakes are not personal, so try not to take it that way. I have a Keep Calm And Carry On poster in my office to remind me of this very point.
If dealing with someone in person—at a store or airport terminal—don’t break down and resort to shouting. Many times, the person you are face to face with can’t do much to remedy the situation. Remember the saying, “you attract more flies with honey than vinegar” before you fly off the handle.
Find Someone Who Can Help You
Calling the customer service department at a huge company (like a credit card company or Internet/cable service provider) can be a crapshoot. There are literally thousands of people answering phones across the globe—so if you don’t find satisfaction with the person who picked up your call, try someone else.
This might mean you have to literally hang up the phone and call back, as some customer service reps aren’t willing to just pass you off to the next person. Insist on talking to their supervisor if you aren’t getting anywhere, and don’t back down.
Take Your Complaints to Social Media
I had a friend who had a terrible experience at a big box electronics store. She got nowhere when dealing with the manager of the local store, and complained about it in a blog post, as well as on her Facebook page. In less than a day, someone from customer service gave her a call.
Many conglomerates have departments to monitor complaints on social media—so feel free to tweet about it. Be sure to focus on the specific complaint instead of something vague, and tag the company on Facebook and Twitter.
Want to complain about service at a Holiday Inn? Add @HolidayInn to your tweet. If you’re disputing a fee on your American Express rewards card, tagging @AskAmEx will get your complaint spotted faster and channeled appropriately.—Fodors
And when your problem gets solved, be sure to publicly appreciate the effort of the company in the same way you complained about them. It’s the right thing to do.
Post a review on a blog or praise them through Twitter or other social networking sites. It instills customer loyalty and chances are they will treat you better next time you have a problem.—Boston.com
Be Prepared and Communicate
Be sure to have all of the documentation ready when you speak to someone in customer service, but ask them how they would like to receive it. Opening the lines of communication and giving the person you are dealing with the information in the easiest way for them lets them know you are willing to help them help you.
When All Else Fails, Get Angry
So you’ve tried being polite, you’ve called back and talked to several different people, you’ve got all the documents at hand and still you aren’t getting your issue resolved? Get mad.
But get mad with proof. Write down the date and time of each time you have talked to someone, and their name. Take notes on your conversations and how you were told your issue would be resolved. Having a paper trail is proof that you have done your due diligence, and that your anger and frustration is warranted.
Do you have any tips to share that have worked well for you? We’d love to hear them!