5 Ways to Get Good Customer Service

The guerrilla guide to getting good customer service (without getting arrested).

By Ben Popken from Reader's Digest | May 2008


HOW TO DO IT: Figure out the company’s e-mail address format. It’s usually something like firstname.lastname @companyname.com. You can find sample e-mail addresses in company press releases and SEC filings (sec.gov). Next, find the names of a number of top executives, plug them into the formula, and blast your complaint letter to as many as you want. For a list of potential targets, check out the company at google.com/finance and look under Management. The About Us or Investor Relations sections of a company website are also good places to find a high-level executive roster.

WHY IT WORKS: A top executive understands he won’t have a company if there are no customers. Perhaps he read the study in the Journal of Marketing that found the stock of companies scoring high on the American Customer Satisfaction Index outperforms the general market. Plus, he’s a bigwig. If you can convince him your cause is just and he tells his people to fix your problem, it will get done.

ONE EXAMPLE: Kurt Greiner’s stepson, Private Christopher Corley, was flying home to New Jersey from California on US Airways in time to say goodbye to his dying grandmother. A delay triggered a series of events that left the Marine stranded in Phoenix and sleeping in the terminal. Gate staff were indifferent to the family crisis, so Greiner e-mailed a complaint to a list of US Airways executives.

A senior customer-service representative called Corley and apologized profusely. By then, he had made it to New Jersey, but the rep upgraded his return flight to first class, threw in a $400 travel voucher, and offered to waive any future $100 itinerary-change fee. Delayed 16 hours, Corley didn’t make it to his grandmother’s bedside in time, but he was able to stand by his stepfather at her memorial service.

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