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!