Sometimes New Yorkers do live up to the “they are so rude” stereotype and usually I can let it roll off my back. But sometimes it’s really irritating — especially when I’m paying for a service or asking for help in a store. Well guess what — there are ways to ensure that you won’t have to deal with such “service” again — in this town or any other! My guest blogger today is my best friend Danielle Freni who has started a Customer Service Revolution. Of which I gladly ride on the coattails of so I can get free drinks, better service and more bang for my buck! Now you can too.
by Danielle Freni
In a perfect world, all business owners and CEOs would value customer service, understanding that it ultimately translates to their bottom line. This is why some of them monitor online reviews to see what people are saying about their business. They would feel so strongly about it that they would hire only the most competent and compassionate employees, who would similarly care more about our experience than they do about their lunch breaks. But, let’s get real. Sometimes we have to work at getting what we want.
Remember that you are in charge of your own customer service experience.
Here are six quickies for getting what you deserve:
1. Do your homework
Read product reviews before you make an online purchase – they will give you far more accurate information than the company’s marketing team (who has likely never seen the product!) Yelp a restaurant before you make a reservation. Google a company before you commit to a contract or a costly purchase (especially run the name through the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints on file). As a business, this is something which you should be very aware of, as if you are wanting to get contracts from people you should make sure you have everything perfect for customers first. This will help your business.This works for individuals as well… that shady leasing agent? The shop’s supposed “owner?” Look them up! It’s amazing what you can tell about a person from their Facebook profile thumbnail.
2. Name drop
In most customer service experiences, the merchant already knows your name (whether from their computer screen or the credit card you just handed over). You should get theirs and make sure you use it. I recently wrote about why name calling works when used properly.
3. Call ahead
You are a busy person, your time is valuable and your expectations are high. You can send that message loud and clear by making a quick (and polite) phone call in advance of your arrival to alert the staff in any establishment that you are…basically VIP. Although I don’t suggest using those exact words. My recent post on calling ahead explains how to make that phone call a win-win.
4. Assert yourself
This doesn’t mean being a jerk. In fact, I advise strongly against adopting any jerk-like posture in any customer service situation. And never, ever, ever, use a swear word. The moment you let a single foul word slip out, your credibility is shot and it’s basically over. But there is a distinct difference between being aggressive (negative) and being assertive (positive). Oprah and movie director Tom Shadyac recently discussed “Why Being Assertive is Positive” as related to wireless providers.
5. Use social media
More and more companies, even very small businesses, have finally caught on that consumers have flipped the script on bad customer service thanks to the World Wide Web. Essentially, we now have the power to be a public relations nightmare. If a company provides poor customer service and you aren’t able to resolve it on the spot (always try that first), all you need is a Twitter or YouTube account to escalate your issue. Take this recent example of a FedEx delivery man caught on home security video. It was posted at the height of the 2011 holiday shipping season and has since been viewed by 8 million+ people. Oops.
6. Manage your expectations
You will save yourself a lot of aggravation if you use this one wisely. At a certain point, you just have to know…the post office is not a “quick” errand and the DMV teller does not give a shit about your schedule. It doesn’t make it okay, but once you stop expecting these truths to be disproved, you’ll be surprised by how your own experience improves.
Danielle Freni is the founder of The Customer Service Revolution, a blog that empowers everyday consumers to take charge of their experience and get better customer service. She lives in New York City and on Twitter @daniellefreni.