Tips on making a customer service call

Health plan customer service is getting a makeover. You can read about it in Gregory Warner's story here. And take a quiz to see if you're empathetic enough to work in a call center. Here's a few more tips to navigate a customer service call:

  • Prepare beforehand and get organized: Have necessary information (account info, credit card info, etc.) on hand to save time, and a pen and paper in case you need to write notes. It's also a good idea to get the operator's name and number in case you get disconnected.

  • Take advantage of self-service options: You can sometimes obtain answers via a company's website or an interactive voice response.

  • Make sure you have a good speakerphone: Chances are you might be on hold for a while, so having a good speakerphone will allow you multitask and get other things done.

  • Set aside some time for the problem: If you've got a complicated issue to resolve, don't make the phone call with only 10 minutes to spare before you have to go. You can speed up the process by stating your points succinctly. Writing your thoughts down beforehand may help. And try calling on a Wednesday. On Monday and Tuesday, people are still going through their weekend to-do lists. By Wednesday it quiets down on the call center floor. Especially just before lunchtime. Afternoons are always busier as people start to get off work.

  • Reach an operator: The website GetHuman.com has tips (like what number to press, etc.) on how to get an operator on the line from thousands of volunteers who've had to deal with the customer service departments of various companies.

  • Be civil: Sometimes talking to a customer service representative can be frustrating, but yelling and being belligerent probably won't help solve your problem. So be reasonable and remember there's a human on the other end of the line, too. Don't turn the phone call into an emotional argument. Badmouthing the company to your rep may not help, but it never hurts to be friendly (i.e. ask the rep how they are doing) and may even help you get further. And remember that customer service reps are often from a call center the company has outsourced.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...