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En español | Comedian George Carlin made famous seven “dirty” words you should never say on television. Likewise, I have a list of seven things you should never say to a customer service representative.
As in, “I’m going to call my attorney.” This will end the conversation instantly and eliminate any future communications, except between guys in expensive suits with bar cards. Going to court is rarely a profitable course of action for small consumer matters. But if you’re actually going to take the business to court, there’s no upside to advertising your next move ahead of time.
You never want to say something along the lines of, “I’m going to make sure you lose your job.” First of all, it’s highly unlikely you will be able to get someone fired. Second, you’re much better off with the agent as your ally rather than your enemy. You’re going to get much better results if you acknowledge the difficult position the agent is in and compliment her on how she’s handling the situation.
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As in, “I’m going to bankrupt your company.” Just as with threatening someone’s job, it’s unlikely you’re going to bring down the house. You have to think about your real goal: Is it getting a refund or value for money paid? And even if you were actually able to derail the corporate train, you still wouldn’t be better off financially.
This covers foul language, sexual innuendo or comments about someone’s ancestry — all guaranteed to get you classified as a “crazy” customer. The customer service rep will then rightfully hang up on you and scribble a note in your file to make sure every future agent is aware of your challenged mental state.
As in, “I’m never going to use your products again.” One big reason companies offer customer service in the first place is to retain loyal customers. Therefore, if you tell them that you’re no longer going to use their product or service, you’ve taken away their No. 1 reason to be nice to you.
You’ve got to be pretty high up the chain of command before warnings of going to the press will have any impact. You will also need to do some research first, including demographics, audience numbers and reaching the right reporters, in order to use press exposure in your favor.
This also goes for “bomb,” “shoot” and “kill.” Verbal threats of bodily harm are crimes. Customer service calls are recorded, and you could find yourself on the wrong end of a restraining order — or worse, behind bars. No matter how frustrating or absurd the situation, you need to maintain a businesslike approach.
So if you can’t yell and threaten, what does work? Here are seven things you should always say to greatly enhance your chances of winning a satisfactory conclusion in a customer-service conflict.
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