Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Customer "Service"

After a lengthy conversation with my prescription coverage customer service, requiring 3 separate phone calls and speaking with no fewer than 7 different agents, I thought I'd write a little guide to get you through the run around that is telephone customer service.

1. Have all documents ready before placing that call
2. Have documents you don't think are pertinent ready before placing the call
3. Have paper and a pen ready for note-taking before placing the call
4. Get the names of each and every person you speak with, as well as the date and time
5. Remain as calm as possible. Remember that the customer service agent rarely, if ever, has any say in company policies. They just do what they're told (one would hope they aren't winging it)
6. Explain your situation slowly, calmly, and as succinctly as possible
7. Repeat step 6 as needed
8. Ask for a supervisor if you feel misunderstood, ignored, or that more can be done
9. Call back if you aren't satisfied or if more questions come up
10. Don't trust that what you're told will happen will actually happen. Continue to follow up until you're satisfied
11. Do you best to be polite and courteous, no matter how maddening the situation becomes
12. Be the squeaky wheel if necessary. Follow up by phone, email, letter, etc.
13. Be your own advocate. Customer service employees work for the company, not you. Don't rely on them to take action.

I'm feeling particulary cynical lately after getting the run around from a major retailer over Christmas, this insurance company, and a major shipping company. Health care providers are often cautioned against thinking of patients as numbers or as unavailable beds, and I think customer service reps should be taught the same thing. It's empathy, people!

Anyway, I'm done ranting. Now I want to thank Miss Craig who finally, patiently helped me today. She saved my day. :)

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