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Canadian Newspaper Offers Tips to Get Better Customer Service

November 30, 2009

Companies, especially those serving Canadians that want to avoid cost-escalating, revenue/profit-eating call spikes and lines at customer service desks of angry buyers may want to make quick diagnoses and surgery on issues that lead to complaints and purchasers to go elsewhere. Heading off these matters can, in turn, lower costs and increase revenues thanks to happy or at least less annoyed shoppers and subscribers.

The Globe and Mail, a large nationwide Canadian newspaper, has just published a story containing five customer service tips. The piece, “You v. Customer service: How to Complain and Conquer” written by Dakshana Bascaramurty offers consumers “a battle plan” for getting complaints handled, with expert advice and examples.
“‘Tis the season to shop till you drop – but also to suffer through terrible customer service,” says the author.
1. Name and shame 
The article cites Toronto, Ont.-based marketing specialist Nick Dumitru who had launched, site where incensed Canadians can rant about awful customer service that has proven successfully because companies don’t want a bad reputation, says the founder.
A frustrated man who had dropped more than $2,000 on a leaky home spa contacted Dumitru after several attempts at getting a refund failed. A few weeks after his story was published the company took notice and returned his money; Dumitru added the resolution to the original post.
“If they find it on Google, once they see their company coming up in negative results, they’ll act,” Dumitru said.
2. Threaten to go elsewhere
Customers often go running into the arms of a competitor after they’ve had a sour experience, but few realize the difference that simply threatening to take their business elsewhere can make. In most cases, the front-line agent will transfer you to someone in the retention department, Dumitru points out whose sole job is to keep your business.
3. Keep records
Every time you talk to a contact center agent or e-mail one, write down the person’s name and employee number as well as what you discussed, said Douglas Simpson, president of the Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus. This will help you remember who you worked with and the interaction details.
“Documenting the events and steps in detail can make your case that much more compelling and increase your odds of finding a solution if you reach senior management levels,” added Bascaramurty.
Other observers say this advice also helps the contact center to ensure prompt handling of complaints that in turn will help savvy organizations to identify and resolve the problems that led to the contacts in the first place. Most contact center agents genuinely want to help customers and will do what they can for them.
4. Go to the top
If it comes to it, don’t be afraid to go after a company’s highest-ranking employees, says Jane Steele Moore, founder of Complaints Are Us, a Toronto-based company that pursues grievances on behalf of customers.
She suggests searching a firm’s corporate Web site for the newsroom or press section: These are often gold mines for executive e-mail addresses and phone numbers. She has used this trick dozens of times and says it’s saved her countless hours of listening to nerve-grating hold music.
5. Stay cool
After United Airlines baggage handlers broke Halifax, N.S. musician Dave Carroll’s guitar, he complained to the company through about 20 exasperating phone calls and as many e-mails. After months of fighting, he gave up on his quest for compensation.
But he still needed to release his frustration, so he wrote a song, “United Breaks Guitars,” that went on to be one of 2009’s viral YouTube hits. The key, he says, was the tone of the catchy song.
“It wasn’t confrontational and I wasn’t fighting and whining about it,” says Carroll. “I’ve been told by people all over the world that they appreciate the ‘Canadian’ approach.”
Two days after the video was posted, United Airlines called Mr. Carroll offering to right its wrong.
Bascaramurty had one last piece of advice for readers and that is not to lie. “Embellishing your complaint won’t do you any good and could end up biting you in the end.”

Brendan B. Read is ContactCenterSolutions’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison