When you enter the adult world, one of the harshest realities is that you no longer have your mom there to make those awkward complaint calls for you. Miffed that your internet is out? Confused about that $50 fee? Perturbed that maintenance still hasn’t fixed the ice maker? Sorry, friend – you’re not 12. It’s no longer chill for your mom handle all the dirty work.
For non-confrontational, introverts like myself, filing complaints or standing your ground when an issue comes up is terrifying. And, even if you’re lucky enough to be an extrovert, dealing with problem over the phone can make the most zen individual want to bang their head against the nearest wall. With a little practice though, you can become a sassy, savvy over-the-phone negotation-pro. As they say, there’s no time like the present. So throw on your grown-up pants and get ready to hustle — you’ve got some calls to make.
You can’t always get what you want. But if you try out these 6 tips on your next complaint call, you might just be surprised how often you do get what you need.
1. Don’t call when you’re angry.
When you’re grumpy, you want someone to listen to you rant. Newsflash: In the grown up world, temper tantrums don’t get you anywhere. Wait until you’ve calmed down, then make that complaint call. If you’re cool and collected, it’s easier to communicate the problem and your needs.
Plus, you’ll immediately put the other person on the defense if you start off the call throwing verbal punches. As they say, you get more bees with honey. If you’re nice, the higher the chance that person on the other end of the phone will be nice, too. (And remember, the person answering the phone is likely not the person you should be angry with. They’re just doing their job, so don’t take your frustrations out on them).
2. Don’t be afraid to ask.
More sage wisdom for you here: you’ll never get what you don’t ask for. Whether it’s setting up a payment plan on a bill you can’t pay this month, getting a discount, or having that broken ice maker fixed today, the only way to get closer to what you want is by asking politely.
You may be told no (and be prepared — it happens a lot when you’re an adult), but you never know until you take the chance and ask.
3. Be confident.
If you make it clear that you’re timid and easily pushed around, you’ll often get taken advantage of. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
So before you start throwing out “I’m sorry for bothering you” every 15 seconds, remember that you’re the customer — you have a right to complain, ask questions, and (in some cases) make demands. Go into every complaint call with confidence and save that apologetic tone for when you’ve actually done something wrong.
If you’re unsure about your rights, review your lease, product warranties, etc. before the call. Going into the conversation with the facts can never hurt.
4. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Tried the asking route and got shut down? Don’t give up there. Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate.
You’d be surprised what many companies will do to keep your business. Over the years, I’ve been able to score a free router, free upgraded internet service for 6 months, a discounted phone bill, and much more. I’m no deal-making guru by any stretch — all I did was keep pushing when I was told no the first time. You can easily do the same.
5. Make your problem clear.
Don’t be that person. Start the call by simply and clearly explaining your problem, complaint, or issue. It’s not helpful to the representative for you to go into a long, drawn-out story full of non-essential details. The clearer your are at the beginning, the faster they can resolve your problem and hand up the phone (praise!).
6. Go into the call with solutions in mind.
Like I mentioned before, focusing your call on solutions rather than a space for your to vent and throw a complaint party is key to getting what you want from customer service (or your landlord, etc.). Before you ever pick up the phone, write down a quick list of solutions that will make you happy. The representative is there to make you happy — giving them a clear-cut set of options for making that happen will likely yield better results for you every time.