The guerrilla guide to getting good customer service (without getting arrested). Mona Shaw walked into her local Comcast customer-service office one day last summer swinging a claw hammer. The feisty 75-year-old clobbered several pieces of office equipment before she was stopped. “Now do I have your attention?” she asked.
Reliable phone service was critical for Shaw and her husband. They lived in rural Bristow, Virginia, with no neighbors nearby and a history of calling for emergency medical assistance. The Shaws were switching to a Comcast phone-Internet-TV package, but after days of spotty phone service, a botched installation attempt, a missed service appointment, and blithe indifference, Shaw decided to visit the Comcast office.
Was Mona Shaw’s reaction extreme? You bet. She received a three-month suspended sentence for disorderly conduct, a $345 fine for damages, and a year-long restraining order that barred her from going near the Comcast office. Consumers across the nation identified with her frustration.
As costs balloon and paychecks shrink, customers are chasing value while merchants are chasing profits. Naturally, there are some nasty collisions. But good service is, in the end, good business-and it’s something both sides want. Before you open your mouth to complain about poor customer service, you need to ask yourself two questions: Do I have a valid complaint? Am I expecting a reasonable solution? If the answer to both questions is yes, you can use the strategies here to get satisfaction for almost any transaction.
All valid complaints start the same way. You expect one outcome but get another. It’s just like algebra class: x dollars = y service. If you’re getting 1/2y, then you should have to pay only 1/2x. Or perhaps they can throw in z, where z is something you feel equals 1/2y. It’s a simple matter of balancing the equation.
Just how much time should you spend on the problem? Calculate your income as an hourly wage. If your time is worth $30 an hour, don’t spend all day chasing down a $25 refund. Life is short. Hold times are long.
Give regular customer service a shot first. Concisely and calmly explain your problem. If they don’t do what you want, try repeating the reasons. If the first rep is stuck on no, call back and get a different one. Talking to a supervisor sometimes works. If it doesn’t, it’s time to escalate your tactics by following these tried-and-true tips from satisfied customers.