There is an etiquette of sorts that will help ensure achieving the best possible Customer Force of 1 results from higher-ups in the organization you’re targeting for help and resolution.
Here are four tips to help you get there:
Leverage your initial contact with the regular customer service department.
Sometimes, when you’ve experienced poor customer service, that becomes as strong—or even stronger—leverage than the original challenge. It can be very persuasive when communicating with people higher up in the organization. I had such an experience with Amazon, where the “regular rep” represented to me (then reiterated) that I would be able to get reimbursed for a problem that, frankly, I thought was a long shot.
Thrilled, I awaited contact from another department that she referenced. None came, so I called back. That’s when I discovered that the rep had provided erroneous information about the resolution, and had never forwarded the issue to the “other department.” Initially, I was told that there was no protocol for reimbursing me—while notes showed the original rep had not provided accurate or complete information.
I explained that, while the original issue might be moot, the poor customer service itself warranted remediation. The rep agreed and sent me up the food chain, where I was reimbursed in total and told the rep would be receiving further training—all because of the service problems, not the core issue.
Be as polite as possible with everyone, at least initially.
There’s always room to ratchet up the rhetoric later if you continue running into brick walls. But, in this increasingly customer service-driven world, organizations are more motivated than ever to maintain positive reviews, ratings and reputation. Initially asking for help in a nice, respectful way will generally stand you in good stead.
Take the time, make the effort to craft a compelling, well-written or (spoken) position.
Articulate and well-crafted words—written or spoken—will prove helpful to your discussion. And, telling a compelling story that may tug at the heartstrings as well as let the contact know you mean business can further increase odds of success.
Bottom line, most people respect clear and intelligent communication. (Of course, you may not always get it in return, but set your bar high no matter what.) It shows that you’re a force to be reckoned with, and that you expect and deserve respect, and some level of resolution.
Take detailed notes of all conversations and contacts.
If possible, get people to confirm their position and commitments in writing. Make sure to chart date/time, name/position and a summary of what was discussed—and re-confirm key points before ending the discussion. This way, no matter what, records exist that can be referenced subsequently with other people in the organization, or if necessary, a legal or regulatory representative.
Properly planned and executed, your Customer Force of 1 efforts will bring positive resolutions more often than not.
While customer service departments and representatives generally are doing a better job of addressing consumer satisfaction in a timely and complete manner, it’s not always sufficient to rely on others to move the process forward. In some cases, the impacted customer needs to go further and farther to pierce the normal routes and get needed attention and resolution at other levels—typically higher up the food chain. While the challenge can seem daunting, it can be surprisingly straightforward and satisfying.Mark Lusky
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Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.