Six ways to wrangle great customer service

six tips to get better customer serviceGood customer service is expensive. But bad customer service can be even pricier. Recall the United Breaks Guitars anthem, which some media analysts say pushed down United's stock $180 million, slapping stockholders where it hurts worst.

If you're the victim of bad customer service, the trick to turning the tide is to convince the offending company that it is in their best interest to fix the problem. This advice from MSNBC is classic, plus here are some additional suggestions:

  • Rule 1: Be nice. Your mother had it right. You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Angering the employee on the front line rarely helps.

  • Rule 2: What are you going to do for me? Know what you want them to do and how much you'll compromise and put the onus on them to meet your expectations.

  • Rule 3: Know the rules even if you want to break them. Your approach should probably be more conciliatory if you missed the deadline, don't have the receipt or want them to make some kind of exception.

  • Rule 4: Don't take no for an answer -- at least not the first time. Climb the chain of command persistently, even if it means finding the CEO's e-mail or phone number. Going to or Google Finance will send you off in the right direction.

  • Rule 5: Keep records. Know who you're talking to. Get their first and last names and direct-dial phone number. Taping the conversation is another good idea, although, to be legal, you'll probably have to tell the person you're talking to what you're doing.

  • Rule 6: Tell the world. If you really can't get satisfaction, today's consumer has multi-media tools available that can be very effective. You don't have to have musical talent to do what this angry customer in Louisiana did – put a video camera in the car and capture images of thieving service techs. Here's the chagrined owner of the automotive dealership making his apologies and throwing in a free service contract just to make things right.
In this tough economy, you can't afford to accept less than what you paid for. So don't be shy. Insist that businesses do the right thing. You deserve it.
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