‘Ghostbusters’ provides insights to customer service solutions

There are surprisingly easy ways for you to get the customer service you want and deserve. Most consumers give up right away after trying and failing to get customer service resolution in the normal customer support department. When one call, email, text or online chat session fails to produce a satisfactory outcome, they stop trying. Generally, frustration, anger and feelings of being powerless follow. Discover how you can get stress-relieving, satisfying solutions instead of stress-producing BS.

Demons of incompetence, ignorance and indifference have infected customer service departments across the country. Most people are afraid to do battle with them.

Lyrics from the classic Ghostbusters movie provide clues about what to do to get competent customer service: “Ghostbusters…If there’s something strange in your neighborhood…Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters)…If there’s something weird…And it don’t look good…Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters)…I ain’t afraid of no ghost…I ain’t afraid of no ghost…If you’re all alone…Pick up the phone…And call ghostbusters.”

So, who are you gonna call? Instead of fearing demons of customer service incompetence, pick up the phone or send an email to someone up the food chain when you’ve been dissed by customer service. For decades, I’ve used an easy system that has worked reliably with such mega-corporations as Comcast, Kaiser, CenturyLink and Electrolux/Frigidaire.

Typically, I first Google the search term “[COMPANY] PRESS RELEASES” and look for a corporate contact(s) attached to one or more of them. With email and/or phone info, reach out with a simple request such as, “Need your help, please” in the subject line (or open up a phone conversation with words to this effect). Then, in firm but pleasant and respectful tones, address what’s happened that necessitated the outreach. (Remember, this person has no knowledge of the issue, so asking for help out of the gate is the way to get the best results. You always can ratchet up the level of rhetoric subsequently if not responded to in a timely and helpful way.)

PR people mostly want to help. Negative press is what they abhor, so their natural mindset is to help pave the way to positive PR. You are part of that PR picture.

Based on my experience with many large companies in varied industries, you have an 80% or better chance of this first effort producing positive results. Usually, they respond either with a direct way to help, or a referral to someone in the executive office who can (or you may be contacted by that person directly).

Once you’re connected with an executive-level employee, chances are you will get what you want—presuming your requests are reasonable and respectful.

If you want to do “advanced” level work, consider coupling your outreach to the PR person with efforts to loop in those at the top of the food chain. Just last week, I did this with Comcast on behalf of a third party; and wound up with responses from the CEO’s office as well as the head of corporate communications. It is currently being addressed, and I will report back on the outcome. By the way, I found the CEO’s and Communications Chief’s emails—which aren’t readily available—by using the same “Joe_Blow@xxx.com” setup. (This won’t always work, but it certainly did here.)

If you want to further emphasize/reinforce your request, use two methods of outreach. Sometimes, I both call and email the contact. You can do this with any combination of text, email and phone.

As a general rule, once you get somebody in the executive office, that person is both empowered and motivated to address your concern. Your ability to get to that level shows you mean business, and that it’s a good idea to help rather than further enrage you.

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Next: What to do when a company doesn’t respond to this initial effort.

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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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