Get empowered to solve customer service problems

Lack of clarity, confidence and catalyst seem to be the primary reasons people don’t go the extra mile to seek out satisfying customer service solutions.

Lack of clarity can be remedied with a clear-cut plan to go beyond the normal customer service loop. Confidence can be achieved by seeing the positive results of others and testing the waters for yourself. The more you do it, the more confidence you’re likely to get.

Then, there’s the issue of catalyst. When it comes right down to it, many people would rather give up and complain than actually solve the problem. It feels too daunting. Or, there’s not enough time. Or, it’s just not important enough to pursue.

As with an exercise regimen, getting the customer service resolution you deserve requires a commitment. You’ve got to get beyond your innate inertia, make the time and prioritize it as important.

If you can muster up the courage and commitment, start here:

  1. Google “press releases” for the company you want to contact. Look for a PR contact name/phone number/email. If at first you don’t succeed, rinse and repeat. (An alternative is to search for “executive office” or “executives” at the company. Sometimes you’ll find a current contact.) I’m currently engaged in a process where I’ve been able to reach the office of Comcast’s CEO and and communications director. In this case, I decided to proceed on several fronts simultaneously.
  2. Write a polite email (or call if you’re so inclined). Start with words to the effect of, “need your help, please” in the subject line or at the beginning of a call. Then, explain your dilemma and ask for someone in the executive office who can help. Conservatively, I would say I’ve gotten through and achieved success 80% of the time using this methodology. If you don’t get a timely response to an email sent or voicemail left, try again using another form of communication (e.g., if you emailed, try calling or texting). Sometimes stuff gets lost in the shuffle. If you only have one contact option, try again—reinforcing your last message.
  3. If you don’t get an adequate response or resolution, consider ratcheting up the rhetoric and introduce any leverage points that may put pressure on them. Health insurance companies doing business in Colorado, for example, are regulated in by the Colorado Department of Insurance. You can file a complaint. And, you always can reach out to one or more investigate reporters to see if/how they might get involved. (They may do nothing more than call the company in question, which can be enough leverage to produce a satisfactory outcome.)
  4. If there’s a strategic partner, consider contacting that company to exert leverage on the problem company. I once did this with Costco, through whom I had contacted Lending Tree for a loan. When the lender they referred was causing problems, I reached out to the Costco liaison who worked with Lending Tree. Not only was the loan offered without their usual conditions, they lowered the interest rate. I later learned that the bank’s entire home equity department had been audited because of my actions. Oh, and I got a much larger cash card from Costco than normally was awarded.

Try it, you may like it. If it works, try it again. If it doesn’t work or you remain uncomfortable, there’s no mandate to continue. But you hopefully don’t have to invest too much time or energy to check it out. And, once you experience the joy of success, it can be addictive!

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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.

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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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