When going beyond the normal customer service loop to executive-level help, the outcomes generally will be satisfying. However, there are companies that just don’t seem to care no matter what you do.
That’s when it’s time to ratchet up both the rhetoric and leverage. Instead of just asking for help, demand it. Here are some suggestions based on real-life examples of how both language and leverage can be deployed to get the customer service outcome you deserve:
- Check out options to file a complaint with a regulatory/governing authority and the court of public opinion. For example, an issue with healthcare insurance coverage can be addressed with a formal complaint to the Colorado Department of Insurance. In some cases, the impact may be enhanced by reaching out to an area investigative reporter. I did just this three years ago when a procedure that was supposed to be fully covered by Colorado HealthOp (which had gone into receivership) resulted in an $18,000 bill. After trying patiently for several months to rectify it through the appointed representatives, I contacted an investigative reporter and filed a DOI complaint. The reporter contacted the insurance company and the DOI started their process. Within a few weeks, the bill was reduced to zero. In that case, leverage from two sources at once made a compelling case that they couldn’t ignore.
- Seek out current executive contacts directly (instead of starting with PR contacts). A couple years before the example above, I was over-billed on health tests by Kaiser. After dutifully going through channels and having my appeals summarily turned down, I started a Google search and wound up with what turned out to be the executive assistant to Kaiser’s president in California. After a pleasant conversation with her, in which I explained my exhaustive efforts to confirm test costs multiple times before the tests were done, I wound up back at the state level—where ultimately the entire bill (including the part I acknowledged as legit) was zeroed out. I later learned in a chance meeting with an ex-Kaiser employee that my actions ended up changing the way Kaiser handed certain billing issues in Colorado.
- Go around PR people when they become part of the problem. A colleague had purchased a Frigidaire microwave only 18 months before it stopped working. Calls to the appliance store were ignored. Initially, I reached out to Frigidaire’s PR department, only to be thrown back into the customer service loop. These people obviously thought I would go away if they kept me spinning around. I subsequently discovered a very understanding executive at Electrolux, which owns Frigidaire. I explained the conundrum and the dismal performance of the PR representative. Although technically there was no recourse, she agreed with me that the microwave shouldn’t have failed under these conditions. The microwave ended up being fixed free of charge, and I’m guessing the PR rep learned a lesson as a result of my complaint about her lack of performance or caring.
None of this is rocket science. It works. It’s highly satisfying. And it proves that all of us have the power to get the customer service we deserve. So, why don’t more people go this route? We’ll talk about that next week.
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. To read more about this process, download my ebook, Don’t Get Mad…Get Leverage.
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.