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A discussion of stressful relationships — which I’m doing all this month in daily blog posts — would not be complete without mentioning the relationships you have with customer service reps on the phone or in person. These can be really stressful! Here’s how I see it, with the source of your stressed feelings, and then tips on what you can do about it.

Source of irritation:

  • Long lines, or a long wait for your turn in the queue. You get impatient and annoyed at the wait.
  • You explain the problem, but the rep doesn’t get it
  • You give more detail, but their response is for a totally different issue
  • They keep saying an annoying phrase. Perhaps it’s in their script to tell every customer, and it’s meant to make you feel like you’re buddies — which you are not — but such as “No problem!”… “Gimme one second!” … “I’ll be right with you, okay?”
  • As the minutes tick by, and you can tell you’re not going to get a satisfactory conclusion to your complaint or your request for tech support, they announce your case is concluded. All done! And then the final insult: “I hope I gave you excellent service today!”
  • But as a postcript to the agonizing experience, after spinning you in circles and not giving answers to the questions you asked plainly, they want you to take a survey and confirm that they did their job to perfection.

Luckily, some contacts with customer service actually do resolve the issue. Many times, however, if you were calling to give a change of address or get off their mailing list, you can expect that to be ignored by most companies. Mailing labels for catalogs are made up months in advance, so at the very least you’ll continue to get the mail even after calling. That would be understandable, but I’ve had the experience far too many times of calling yet again and being told “Oh yes, I see that notation next to your name from when you called before. Gee, I wonder why nobody fixed that yet.”

Here’s why– I didn’t invent this story but I think it’s true!

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Some tips to help when you feel irritated that nobody did anything:

  • Take a deep breath. Don’t forget to exhale.
  • Make a note on your calendar or the file what date you contacted customer service, and what was said
  • For next time, be sure to have some small task at hand to do while on hold or waiting, so you don’t feel doubly irritated about the wasted time. Such as a few magazine articles to read, catch up on your phone messages, keep a small inspirational book handy
  • Lower your expectations. Don’t think you’ll get multiple problems taken care of in one call. Break it down and call back for the next problem.
  • When it becomes clear the person is not trained enough to handle your request or issue, politely ask to speak with their supervisor. No need to yell or get angry. A simple request, calmly stated, will get you results faster.
  • Smile. It will come through in your tone and will make everyone feel a bit better about this interaction
  • Don’t let it spoil your day. Even if it was a frustrating experience, you can let it go now, and go on about your day with a cheerful attitude.

your happiness guru,

Evelyn

Comments (4)

Melanie Kissell

June 21, 2010

There seems to be a "theme" in the air today, Evelyn! :-)

I just finished writing about things that bother me and things that make me angry (thanks again for your comment).

I love the story you've shared here - It really goes right to the bottom line of why things don't get taken care of. Let's just call it "passing the buck".

Customer service rep stories are something I could write volumes on and I'm sure I'm not alone!

Thanks for the wonderful tips on how to "keep a lid on it" in stressful situations.

Melanie
#blog30

Melanie Kissell

June 21, 2010

There seems to be a "theme" in the air today, Evelyn! :-)

I just finished writing about things that bother me and things that make me angry (thanks again for your comment).

I love the story you've shared here - It really goes right to the bottom line of why things don't get taken care of. Let's just call it "passing the buck".

Customer service rep stories are something I could write volumes on and I'm sure I'm not alone!

Thanks for the wonderful tips on how to "keep a lid on it" in stressful situations.

Melanie
#blog30

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