How to Speak with a CSR / Customer Service Representative

Geek!This is Kate Rawlins’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I think I’ve grown wiser as I’ve grown older. Not that I’m old, because we all know that 60 is the new 40! But, as a Baby Boomer, I’d like to pass along some pearls of wisdom I’ve learned along the way. I’ll try not to lecture or rant but you’ll notice I’m not without fault, so please bear with me.

We’re not all perfect (you’ve heard that before), but tolerating life’s annoyances is one of those lessons you should learn. You can skip over this pearl – but you may not be able to skip over the CSR person you’re speaking with when trying to straighten out an issue with a bill, a dispute with the cable service, or anything having to do with a utility company.

Yelling, speaking faster, speaking over the person, cursing, or threatening may help, but both you and the CSR will undoubtedly have high-blood-pressure-headaches at the end of the conversation.

My advice? When, after you’ve chosen what language you’ll be speaking, you’ve punched in all the numbers asked of you, and you’ve waited for 27 minutes or they’ve responded so quickly you’re unprepared and still gathering up the paperwork you need, you finally do reach a human, do not speak first, wait – wait until the rep acknowledges you. Jumping down the rep’s throat will not help. You should have been taking advance of the wait time by doing your taxes – duh.

Do not utter a word to the CSR until they ask you for information.

Right here, right now, you’re allowing them to bring up the right account, giving them a breather so they can collect themselves from the previous obnoxious caller, providing them with the time they need to focus on your call and on your account – which is what you want, after all.

After a few more formalities, the rep will finally ask, “How may I help you?” This is what you’ve been waiting for: your opportunity to “bear with them.” Immediately ask the rep what they need to know from you about your issue, wait for their response, and then, this is the hardest part of all:

Continue to allow them to run the show.

Yeah, I know it’s giving up control when you’re the one with the problem, but keep in mind, that the rep is probably sitting in a boiler room with a million other reps, staring at a blank template on a computer screen, and all the rep is doing is asking the questions to get answers to fill in those blanks. While at the same time, wondering why you can’t give just them the info they need, in the precise and prompt manner they’re requesting it, so they can process the form, sort out the problem, and then move along to the next caller who has been on hold for that 5 to 9 minutes of wait time.

Now, if none of this works to your satisfaction, just ask to speak to a supervisor and start the entire process over again, and do not even think of contacting me. Fill in the blanks correctly and you’ll pass Go. Incorrectly and – take it from an East Coaster – you’ll be put on hold quicker than a New York minute.

Learn to bear it – and I never used the word GRIN!

15 thoughts on “How to Speak with a CSR / Customer Service Representative”

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  2. Try looking at the first hit if you search YouTube “Angry Dell Support Call”, but be warned of strong language.

    It’s the perfect example of a man getting so angry with a support person that if he just calmed down, he would have gotten his 10 second answer five minutes earlier minus all the anger.

    All of the automated stuff, all of the requests for information is because they’re trying to organize thousands of support requests every day, if not every hour. Most people don’t get that. Everything has a reason.

  3. It’s the only way to get anything solved. You have to be sweet or else you never get anything solved, corrected, or changed. I always say thank you and have a nice day or weekend or even holiday as it is the season.

  4. Right on sister! It’s true, you can lose their support in a “New York” minute if you’re not careful, and then where will you be? All that wait time spent for nothing. So give’em some respect. You can always get mad as hell later!

  5. I totally agree….I figure kill them with kindness, you will get more help that way.
    However, always remember.. the CSR has all your personal information…you have nothing on them…nor can you ever find them again.

  6. Phone rage will get you about as much as road rage — not much and a feeling later on how stupid you were to let your anger get the best of you. Patience always wins out. At least you might end up with the CSR looking for ways to help out rather than looking for a way to hang up and leaving you right where you started with a problem that still needs to be resolved.

  7. Excellent advice for those with the patience to follow this process. But, we must all give it a try since we are no longer allowed to have face to face contact with anyone who could be of assistance with our issues. I personally would be happy to drive across town to see a “live” CSR instead of dealing with these issues over the phone or on the computer, but such is progress I guess.

  8. awesome advice – and it really works! I have treid this and it works each time. The yelling,etc… on invokes a repeat of the entire procedure of calling and waiting and usually ends up with a ” I can not help you or no we can not do that for you”.
    So hang in there and your problem will be solved or least you’ll get a better explaination of why they can not and hopfully you may avoid the entire problem next time!

  9. What??? Be nice to a CSR? Of course—especially if they speak English. If they don’t speak English, you can say whatever you please. It’s all in the tone of voice. Keep the tone even, monitone, try to put the CSR to sleep. I like to start by asking the CSR where they are. Enjoyed the article.

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