How to be the 'Squeaky Wheel' of Customer Service
Sometimes getting customer service can be tougher than anyone might expect. It's easy to think that, particularly these days, businesses will go to just about any lengths to get and keep customers, but when it comes to customer service, that's not always the case. However, there are ways that customers can, at least somewhat, force the issue, and get great customer service out of a company, even when it would seemingly rather not provide that service. Squeaky wheels, after all, get the grease, and there are several ways to be that squeaky wheel.
Bad customer service does quite a bit of damage to businesses. Between difficulty in reaching a real person, reaching a real person that doesn't provide quality service, and just a general lack of help, customers are voting with both feet and wallets. Six out of 10 in a recent survey actually hung up on a business, or just left a store outright, on the strength of poor customer service, and that means plenty of money that's fleeing the operation.
But for those customers who want the best in service, sometimes it pays to “rattle a cage” or two to get what's desired, and also provide a point for businesses looking to provide better customer service. One way is to take complaints online, instead of directly contacting a business. As we've recently seen with the Ryan Block and Tim Davis incidents, taking the results of a customer service experience online often activates the higher echelons of corporate response, and can often engage those with much more authority in the business itself. Within online options are live chats with sales and customer service reps via a company's website. When finished, it's a comparatively simple matter to save a log from such events, so doing so can be valuable in the long run.
A firm may even offer a user community within its own site, and taking advantage of such communities can help fuel better responses. Plus, there are often ways to circumvent automated menus, and many of these methods are known on certain websites. A quick check online can often reveal a company's comparatively secret numbers for direct human contact. Consider also introducing phrases like “escalate” into conversations with customer service reps; escalating too many calls to higher authorities can bring trouble on a rep, so this may trigger a few new possibilities in terms of customer service. Finally, why not skip the customer service basics altogether, and instead, go up the corporate ladder. Consider talking to places like investor relations and the like; these are people who don't want to see a new social media horror-storm take place, and might have a bit more authority to help than the person at the end of the 800 number.
Naturally, it's best not to launch right into escalation tactics first. After all, even in the aforementioned survey, four out of 10 users didn't seem to have a problem getting through and getting the job done, so there's almost an even coin flip that each particular call won't have a problem. But there are clearly tactics available to make customer service better, when it doesn't quite do the job the first time. Using these tactics judiciously, meanwhile, should result in better customer experiences, and in the end, that's what most users are really after.
Edited by Maurice Nagle