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Tough customer service reps: Make the situation work for you

Have you ever had to return a product or get a price on a damaged item lowered and found the customer service rep to be less than helpful? Make the situation work for everyone involved with the help of these simple tips.

Stay calm, confident and considerate
Serious store clerk

Open with positivity

No matter how frustrated you are about the situation you’re in, keep in mind the customer service rep you’re dealing with isn’t the cause, so approach her in a kind and calm manner. Starting off with a negative or domineering attitude won’t make the situation more enjoyable for anyone, and it could even turn a customer service rep who might otherwise be on your side against you. So be open and positive in your introduction.

Take a personal approach

Although the facts of the situation are what’s most important to convey, it doesn’t hurt to add a personal touch to your explanation. If a damaged product left a loved one disappointed on her birthday or a mislabelled item got you in trouble at work, explain the tough position you were put in. We’ve all been faced with upsetting situations, and sharing yours could allow a worker who might otherwise have been hostile to identify with you. Letting the customer service rep see you as a person rather than a problem can help get you the outcome you desire.

Stay firm when necessary

If you find a customer service rep has misunderstood or is twisting your words, don’t be afraid to be firm. Going home and venting about how wrong she was won’t do anything to help your situation, so use your energy where it will be most helpful — clarifying your situation when it counts. Just keep in mind that losing your temper or raising your voice will only work against you. So stay calm, and explain your side of the situation until the representative fully understands.

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Don’t settle

When you’re asking for a better deal or trying to return a faulty item, and the customer service rep is adamant that it isn’t going to happen, don’t give up. That person could be saying no for all sorts of reasons. It could be that she’s simply having a bad day and doesn’t feel like dealing with the extra work, or she might have been hired only recently and doesn’t feel comfortable bending the rules. In this case, try again the next day with a different sales associate, or go to a different store if you’re dealing with a chain. Sometimes finding the right customer service rep is all it takes to achieve the results you’re looking for.

Ask to see the manager

If you’ve done all of the above and nothing seems to be working, kindly ask to speak with the manager. Do so respectfully, since the customer service rep will be relating the situation to her manager, and you want to come off in as positive a light as possible. Most managers are focused on ensuring their customers are happy and their store has a good reputation, so if you’ve been a long-time customer, let them know. If you relate your story to the manager and she insists nothing can be done, you might very well have to accept defeat, but at least you can rest assured you made your case and did everything you could.

Remain calm throughout

Though you might be feeling frustrated, and the customer service rep might not be as helpful as you would like, keep a calm, balanced head on your shoulders as much as possible. You don’t know what kind of day that person has been having or why she’s not giving you the answer you want right away, so do your best to be patient and respectful with the hope that she’ll come around. These situations can be challenging on everyone involved, but you can now feel a little more prepared the next time you walk into one.

Tell us

What have you found works best in this type of situation? Share in the comments below!

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