Thursday, June 30, 2011

Navigating the Customer Service Jungle

As I work through my own issues and how to burn off all this projected anger, I've decided that a series on how to manage this world of 800 numbers and customer service might be knowledge well shared. We have to call into an 800 for help at some point in time and if I can help people get what that want or need, then I've done a good thing.

     In this entry I want to talk about the requests for supervisors. I can agree that sometimes you need to ask for someone in a little more authority than us on the frontline. I personally don't take offense when a customer asks for a supervisor. What I do take offense on is the person assuming a supervisor knows more than the agents answering the phones. I've worked in several call centers and can count on one hand the supervisors that knew more than a frontline agent. Of course there are those agents that are new or jaded with their job and really don't put the effort in. Every line of business has those employees, 800 numbers are no exception. The supervisors are there more to handle the employee performance, manage production, and financial credits that need higher authorization. A supervisor will very rarely be able to fix a technical issue or troubleshoot. They have what we would call SME or subject matter experts. Each call center has them, just by different names. These are the guys and girls you want to speak to. If you are struggling with your current support person, ask them if they can get one of those agents to help. Most reps will gladly do that for a customer than struggle trying to give the illusion they know everything.

     The other thing you should know when calling in to ask for a supervisors and it concerns money, make sure you can justify the requested amount. So many times I have seen customers ask for out of this world amounts and end up with nothing. The reason they ended up with nothing wasn't because the supervisor was able, the supervisor couldn't justify the amount. If a supervisor is going to credit a large amount, they have to make sure they can explain it to their boss. You have to remember everything that is done on computers can show up on reports somewhere. The best thing I can say is call in when your issue first starts. Whether it is a small thing like a difference on a bill or major service issues, call in. The only way we in the call center will give out high refunds or credits is with documentation. You may think calling in when a little glitch happens is tedious, but when it turns into a full blow issue months later you'll be glad you called.

     If you keep these two things in mind when calling into any 800 number, regardless of where you reach in the world, your experience should be a lot easier to manage.

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