"Sorry, I can't do anything about it - that's just our policy."
Ever hear this rubbish from a printer, web host or other 3rd party vendor? It's of little condolence, but we've all been there, and we've all heard this run-around. Whether you're printer printed 500 instead of 5,000 brochures, your web host has been down for a day and a half, or if some online store sends you the wrong equipment, you're going to have to deal with vendors that screw up and the telephone customer service reps that protect them.
So if...I mean when this happens, what should you do about?
Well, the answer really depends on:
- What's at stake
- How much damage did this cause
- How upset are you
- How much time/energy you really want to spend on this,
- How much leverage you have and what kind of resolution you're looking for
When you do confront the vendor on the mistake, here are a couple of Do's and Don'ts to remember if you want to get a resolution. If you don't care and just want to rip someone, feel free to ignore these 🙂
- Make some notes BEFORE you make the call so you stay organized
- Speak slowly, clearly, and confidently. Try to keep an even tone to your voice
- Stick to the facts, try not to get personal
- Flip the situation around and ask the CSR (Customer Service Representative) what would they do in your position
- Recognize when you might need to escalate the issue (if the CSR is just a drone reading off of a sheet and is not interested or doesn't have the authority to help you)
- If you have been a loyal customer have your records, facts/figures in front of you before you make the call
- Make a note of when you called, who you spoke to and what was said
- Be accusatory
- Threaten the CSR or use obscene language
- Let your temper get the best of you
- Blurt out, "I want to speak to your manager now!" Try something like, "It doesn't seem like we're making any headway and I really need this matter resolved today. While I appreciate your time I am sure you have a manager on staff now, I'd like to speak with her/him and see if we can come up with a solution, would you put them on the line now?"
- Kick a dead horse...if the CSR is unable or unwilling to help, you'll need to regroup and go in a different direction (writing a letter, etc.)
There's a point in every conflict that it's just best to cut your losses, in order to make sure you don't cross over that point and find yourself wasting way too much time, energy and money, you'll want to decide where that point is BEFORE you confront the vendor.
Lastly, I've found that if I've been a loyal customer, especially one that's sent the company a lot of business I have some leverage in getting a better resolution. Don't assume the CSR you're talking with you knows this, you may need to remind them of how much business you do send their way (if it's minimal don't bother mentioning it though). This of course pulls more weight when you talk to a manager, they seem to care a lot more than the part-time CSR who's just trying to make ends meet. Make sure that you have facts and figures handy to back up that you have been a loyal customer.
If you find the CSR doesn't care, don't waste anymore time with her/him; contact someone in the company who will care. This approach has been extremely helpful to me on several occasions - be tactful and professional about it, don't use it as a threat and this will usually pay off for you.
If none of these things work, and you feel you've been unfairly slighted, consider:
- Write a letter to the owner (usually very effective)
- Write a professional but honest blog or message post
- Report the incident to the BBB
- If the mistake or offense is serious enough you may want to consider getting the advice of an attorney and let her/him guide you on how to handle things.
Wish you had more referrals coming in?
Having trouble finding clients?
Feel like clients take advantage of you sometimes?
Wish you knew what to say to clients and how to say it so you sound more polished and professional?
I won't help you with CS4 training or with color theory but I can sure as heck help you run a more profitable, enjoyable freelancing business whereby you're bringing in the clients you want and getting paid what you deserve. I've been in the field for over 10 years, and I've been sharing my practical first-hand insights with designers around the world - insights that your competition and some of your clients don't want you to know.
Do something to help your success right now, visit my blog at http://beingastarvingartistsucks.typepad.com and learn tips you can use today to help grow your business. Feel free to check out my breakthrough book "Being a Starving Artist Sucks" on Amazon.com. You'll also find it and my second book, "Verbal Kung Fu for Freelancers" on the iTunes App Store for the iPhone/iTouch - they've been sold to serious freelancers in over 12 countries across the globe.