Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Stay calm when dealing with customer service issues

“How do you state what you want without being demanding?”

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(Courtesy of Training Provider online [copyrights were not reserved online])

By Sonali Chigurupati, Collegian Correspondent

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As a teenager, job options are mainly limited to customer service. I’ve been the person behind the counter who makes a mistake that not only messes with a customer’s time, but also their money. I have also been the worker who gets yelled at by a customer for something that is entirely out of my control and not my fault at all. I’m rarely the annoyed customer on the other side of the counter. That’s why when the Residential Service Desk lost my package, at first, I got too crazy with the girl behind the counter because I didn’t know how to deal with the situation.

I’m lucky enough to have parents who usually handle customer service issues like getting overcharged at the grocery store or at dinner. When the hotel cleaners threw out my retainer, I didn’t have to deal with it, my dad did. I’ve seen the way my parents handle issues when people who are meant to help us accidentally mess up. I’ve learned from their interactions, nonetheless, and I want to find my own way of handling these issues. Preferably, I want to find a way to engage with customer service workers that doesn’t anger them and results in a productive exchange for both of us.

That’s not what happened when I found out my package was lost. Expletives were thrown around and I nearly asked the girl, who was about my age, if she was incompetent. Ultimately, none of that extra emotion was the slightest bit productive. There was only one question that needed to be asked: what was going to be done to fix the situation? However, I wasn’t initially asking that question. Instead I was being mean to the person who I would have to continue to work with in order to get what I wanted.

“I need to speak with your boss” is a phrase that I have heard as a customer service agent and it usually makes me roll my eyes. This time, I was the person saying it. I was on the spot. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted the problem to be fixed immediately so I didn’t have to worry about it, but I knew it wouldn’t be, so I went back to my room angry and tried to figure out how to handle the situation. Google helped, a lot.

            An article by Money Under 30 called out to me. I was out $40 (which is quite a lot for a college student working a minimum wage job), I wasn’t going to get my package and I’m definitely under 30. An article by Time Magazine called: “10 Ways to Get Better Customer Service Out of Even the Worst Companies” was also helpful. I decided to start my research on being the most productive irritated customer.

Leave the emotion at the door. This sounds so simple in theory. It makes so much sense that being emotional won’t solve anything, but it’s so hard not to be when your Fashion Nova package with your cute new clothes is lost.

Remember your objective. Even if you have to take a step back and think about what your objective is, take the time you need to think about what you want and need from this interaction. In his article for Time Magazine, Kit Yarrow suggests not to be demanding. This is one of the hardest parts, because how do you state what you want without being demanding? I realized part of this means listening. There are usually protocols set in place for customer service issues because they happen all the time.

Listen to what the customer service agent is telling you. Listen for how they are going to help you and anything else they might say. Make sure it is clear to you so that if you do need to speak to someone else, you can prevent going in circles and hearing the same information from different people.

Ultimately, this process has already taken over a week and it’s really annoying, but it’s almost entirely out of my control. It is difficult and I’m scared I’ll be out a good amount of money, but I am using the resources that the RSD has available for situations like lost or damaged packages. I’m stating my needs and not being demanding because I know that both ends of the situation want it to be resolved.

Sonali Chigurupati is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Stay calm when dealing with customer service issues”

  1. amy on September 17th, 2018 7:44 am

    Thanks for this article. You should write an article how to deal with people on campus who are supposd to serve us and receive some of our tuition/fees as their salary. As ‘customers’ we spend far more, tens of thousand of dollars than the ordinary customer and yet we receive very little customer service for what we pay.

    In normal life I have no problem getting what I want with customer service; it’s about being polite and understanding that your always ‘right’ as the customer and the business wants your repeated service. I’ve gotten free hotel rooms,the other day a free movie ticket, free meals, refunds, apologies including over the phone and in email from the manager/owner, gift cards.

    Yet I’ve had problems at this college; and it’s like pulling teeth because of the entitled/arrogant atttiude employees at this college have, that they think they can do anything they want and never make up for mistakes, never improve things, never apologize.

    Our school has declined in all ways the past few years despite any supeficial change in ranking or being number one for food(like that really matters and at overpacked zoo like dining commons) and I would state at the very basis, it’s because of the arrogance and lack of accountability of the adminstrators, people and faculty who we pay to run this college and to serve us, the students.

  2. Ed Cutting, EdD on September 17th, 2018 2:30 pm

    No. Both ends of the situation do NOT want it resolved.
    UMass simply does not care — they just don’t care.

    More likely than not they have someone stealing stuff, and they likely know who it is but don’t want to do anything about it because the person has connections of some sort.

    But UMass doesn’t care about students…

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