Many small businesses need help in setting up new equipment or have problems with other purchases, prompting them to contact customer service. This could be issues with computers, software, or assembling furniture.
The idea is for customer service to provide guidance or solutions to the problem, which seems simple, but oftentimes customer service representatives don’t meet expectations. The customer service representatives can be pleasant and patient, but the experience can be exasperating with employees and small business owners spending hours or even days trying to resolve a problem, creating stress and possible loss of income.
So what can you as a small business owner, office manager or administrative assistant do to make sure you get the needed information or help you need? We all know about documenting the time of contact and name of the customer service representative, but what else can you do?
Here are some ideas you may consider when you contact customer service:
Take pictures or videos of the problem
Use your smartphone to take pictures and video clips of the problem. Depending on the situation, you could take a video clip of a software glitch or of a wobbly table, for example, to clearly show the problem as it happens. Pictures work well when the issue is static and obvious, such as damaged merchandise. Your photos and videos should be of good quality with closeups of details of the problem, such as damaged goods or a software program not performing as expected. Since companies are concerned about their social image, having pictures or videos, and letting them know you have them, may prove very beneficial to resolve the problem faster.
Be clear about what you want to resolve the issue
Have a clear idea of what you want — a specific fix, a work around, compensation for losses, a new part, or replacement.
Limit time spent with a customer service representative
When communicating with a customer service representative, let them know that you have a set amount of time, such as 30 minutes, to spend on resolving this issue, and you’re not going to spend hours or days on the help you need. If the issue cannot be resolved within the time limit, escalate to a supervisor. Avoid spending hours at a time resolving a customer service issue even if the customer service representative is trying hard to help. Remind the representative about the time you have already spent and how much more you’re willing to spend on the issue, perhaps 15 more minutes, for instance.
Let them know that whatever is going on is not normal nor acceptable. If a problem is so bad that you need to spend this much time, it’s time to escalate, return the items, get a replacement or for the company to offer you a reasonable solution.
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Ask specific questions to get better service~root~>
When someone tells you that they need to do something to your computer or other equipment or that you need to take merchandise to the store for repair, ask why. Usually, the customer service representative will say that those steps will help you better. Help better how? Do they have people with expertise in these issues? What are their names and job titles? Request specific answers, not generalities.
Be sure the customer service representative is not wasting your time making you run around because they are clueless. Once you start asking questions, you may prevent reps from repeating the same steps that someone else did already, and you can save lots of time and energy.
Inquire and document remote computer access
Sometimes a technical support technician needs to access your computer remotely to verify software setup and other issues. This is a situation where the technical support employee takes control of your computer system from outside. If you’re on a chat, inquire how you get back to the chat once the computer is restarted, which is often required. Let them know that you will be taking screenshots, along with pictures and video clips with your smartphone. Sometimes screenshots are lost when the computer restarts, so using your smartphone to document is more reliable.
Take pictures of customer support representative messages, especially regarding errors, because those will be gone once the computer restarts. Not all technical support representatives document the issues in detail, and when you need to follow up, the customer service representative may not know what you’re talking about.
Only allow remote access to your computer to legitimate companies that you trust and that you have contacted directly for technical support. Always be aware of technical support scams and never give access to your computer to people that contact you through pop up ads, email or via telephone.
Escalate the issue if needed
To escalate the problem you may talk to a supervisor or a manager. You can also contact the corporate office of the company. Be firm and assertive about exactly what you want, and clear on your intent to get this problem resolved even if you need to go to social media and the Better Business Bureau. You may also be able to chargeback your purchase, and having pictures and videos at this point is invaluable. If you’re still unhappy and feel something is not right, contact the free legal clinic of your local law school. These are usually manned by senior students and instructors, and can give you ideas about what to do, including information on any lemon laws in your state.
In summary, be prepared when dealing with customer service representatives so that you don’t waste your time with them. Know exactly what result you want – fix a problem within an hour, return and refund, compensation for loss, or something else. And don’t be shy to let them know you have limited time and need to get the problem resolved fast.
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