Telephone customer service representatives do not have easy jobs. Sure, they get to sit all day, and also probably use one of those fun headsets that makes you feel like an astronaut or a beloved college football coach.
However, they do have to deal with us when we’re at our least personable, since we’re usually preoccupied with some kind of problem with our cable service or cell phone bill or hotel poltergeist.
Paradoxically, they may be much more willing to help you if they don’t yell at them. I know. It doesn’t make any sense, but there it is. So here are a few easy tips for ingratiating yourself to your telephone customer service representative.
1. Your customer service rep knows you’re frustrated, so why not begin the call with a few deep, calming breaths before you speak? Maybe six or seven. Just loud, deep, calming, audible breaths.
2. Does your customer service representative have an accent? Ask him about it! Try something like, “What where? is it you’re from, exactly?” or, “Is English your first language?” If the call center is indeed located in another country, beginning sentences with, “I don’t know what things are like in your country…” demonstrates your cultural sensitivity.
3. If your problem is really important... Make your customer service rep’s job much easier by immediately demanding to speak to a manager or supervisor.
4. Your customer service rep may be more sympathetic to your problems if he doesn’t just think of you as a voice on the line. Repeat your name several times throughout the conversation so that you become more “human” to him. (This is a trick I learned on one of those shows about how escape a serial killer, but there’s no reason it can’t apply here.)
5. A lot of people use nicknames to signify a sense of camaraderie. Try giving your rep a fun, complimentary one like “Einstein.”
6. Have you seen the movie Her? You know where I’m going with this.
7. Let them know that they don’t have to be so formal with you by saying something like, “Don’t ‘sir’ me.” If that doesn’t work, try a few casual swears so they know you’re extra chill.
8. You know that affectionate, “No, you hang up” game? It’s not just for new couples. See how many rounds you can go, and try to set a personal record.
9. If your customer service reps sound irritated, maybe they’re tired. I like to let them know I care by asking something like, “Let me ask you something. How do you sleep at night?”
10. Telephone customer service representatives take great pride in their part in helping to select the hold music. If you have opinions, share them!
11. Finally, don’t forget to let them know you’ve bonded. Try calling your customer service rep “buddy,” as in, “You have a great day, buddy.”