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13 Things You Should Know About Customer Service

If you feel like you aren’t getting the results you want from your customer service rep, make sure you’re keeping these 13 things in mind.

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Don’t Curse

Twelve per cent of Canadians curse when frustrated by customer service, making us one of the most profane nationalities, according to a 2012 Echo Research study. Resist the urge. Elaine Allison, a Vancouver customer service expert, says keeping your cool, sticking to the facts and being your most charming self will bring better results.

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Know Your Contract

Most people overlook the terms of service and get angry when companies refuse to waive rules.  

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Photo: Thinkstock

Speak Up

If the problem can be solved right away, vocalize your complaint in the moment. It’s better to have a free meal sitting in a restaurant than leave fuming after a sub-standard dinner with a voucher you might never use.

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Write it Out

If time isn’t a concern, put your complaint in writing. A letter creates a paper trail and saves you from repeating the story, says consumer advocate Christopher Elliott.

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Tell the Company How to Improve

Tell a company what it can do to fix things, says Jeanne Bliss, who has led customer service teams for Mazda and Microsoft. Many businesses want you to be satisfied, and appreciate clarity.

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Don’t Be a Toxic Customer

Threatening to smear a com­pany’s reputation if it doesn’t acquiesce is unethical and rarely works.

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Photo: Thinkstock

Let the Company Know You Love Them

Politely let the company know how loyal you’ve been. Front-line workers often can’t tell a long-time customer from a crank. A free night’s stay is a small gesture for 20 years of business.

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Know How to Reach a Human

Trapped in a phone-menu maze? While dialing zero can be a shortcut to a real person, some companies have made their shortcuts more complicated. The website lets consumers share extensions and wait times. On the site, Bell Canada and Rogers Cable regularly get criticized for having too many phone-menu steps.

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Know When to Call

For the shortest hold time, contact customer service between 9 and 11 a.m. Representatives will have cleared the previous day’s backlog but haven’t been hit by the lunch rush.

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Go to the Top

If you’ve tried official channels to no avail, it might be time to move up. Often, a web search can unearth an executive’s email address. Complain about the system failure itself, not your efforts to change cable bundles.

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Try a Different Route

The Can­adian Transportation Agency can deal with unresolved complaints about flight disruptions, unexpected charges and lost baggage, but it doesn’t want to hear about rude service or bad food.

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Seek Help Through Social Media

Facebook and Twitter can be effective ways to jump the queue. Airlines have been known to respond to tweets within the hour, when email queries can take days. 

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Use One Medium at a Time

Multiple channels are more likely to create frustration for you and the employees trying to help.