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Mistakes When Calling Customer Service

Are You Making These Three Mistakes When Calling Customer Service?

Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

Executive Vice President

WCNC, a television station in Charlotte, North Carolina, released a YouTube video on “3 mistakes people make when calling customer service.” WCNC was quoting Lifehacker in this video.

I was intrigued looking at it because I come from the side where I talk about how companies should address customer service to make it easier for your customers.

In my opinion, agents and their behavior should be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Before I jump to conclusions, let us understand these three mistakes.

The Three Customer Service Mistakes

No one likes calling customer service, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. You probably feel that you spend most of your time trying to get someone to talk.

It’s just not fun, right?

You’re calling because you’ve got a problem.

According to Lifehacker, these are three mistakes you might make when calling customer service.

1. Coming in Hot

Don’t take your frustrations out on the customer service representative.

You’re frustrated. You’re calling because something isn’t right. So, don’t take your frustration out on the representative. They are trying to do their job and are human beings too.

Always remember this.

You need them to be on your side, so they want to help you.

2. Being Unprepared

Gather all account information before you call. Get all the information that would be remotely related to your issue, and gather them ahead of time.

This will make the customer representatives’ life easier. You bet that’ll make your life easier in return.

3. Being Unwilling to Compromise

Be open to the possibility of multiple ways to solve the problem.

Say, you want your money back. You need your 15000 bucks back, and the company is willing to offer you a credit. You don’t want the credit but your money. It goes back and forth.

What do you do?

Sometimes, it’s worth it to swallow your pride, take the credit, and be done with it.
However, hold the company accountable, and don’t take less than what you’re owed, but just be open.

What Do These Mean to Customer Service?

It looks like we have easily gone back in time by three decades when customer service was a luxury. I remember the saying that people used in those days.

Customer service is free. For everything else, we charge.

Let us analyze the first mistake – coming in hot.

Most customers want their problems resolved. So, when they call, the moment the customer service representative empathizes with the customers, there is less likelihood for the customer to vent their frustration.

With all the automation around, even today, customers prefer talking to an agent as one of their most preferred communication channels.

Let us take the customer service leader, Zappos.

They look forward to conversing with their customers and are known for their legendary phone calls that have gone on for hours. They consider customer conversations an opportunity to engage deeply with their customers.

Let us look at the second mistake – coming prepared

Today, when I call a brand, I expect them to know me by my phone number or, alternately, by my customer ID or account number.

When I give this information, the brand should be able to pull out my entire history across all its customer interaction channels. They should have an omnichannel platform where all their channels and systems are integrated.

This would definitely make the life of customers and agents easy.

The onus should be on the brand and not on the customer to come prepared.

Let me give you an example.

I am a privileged customer of my bank. So, they recognize me whenever I call their customer service from my registered mobile number and immediately transfer my call to an agent.

They don’t put me through some meaningless IVR menu. And I love this.

Let us look at the third mistake – being unwilling to compromise

Is this really an advice or a suggestion? This is so insincere.

How can you not own up, and put your customer at risk or at a loss? If I need a refund, I need a refund. Why would I accept a credit?

This is like saying, “you have made a mistake of choosing to work with my brand; now it is your responsibility to figure out an easy way out. Don’t expect us to cooperate with anything you desire.

However, in extraordinary circumstances, be willing to compromise.

Let me give you an example.

I am a regular traveler between US and India, and I book my tickets in advance. I had six bookings for the year from NJ to Chennai.

That’s when they declared the pandemic, and the airlines had to cancel all the flights.

So, I called up the airline to ask for a refund. The service staff mentioned they were also bleeding due to heavy revenue losses and asked me if I would be OK with a credit instead of a refund.

I readily agreed, and eventually, I got to use the credits at a discounted rate from them.

Except for situations like this, as a brand, you should always put your customers ahead of you. And never expect your customers to compromise because they won’t return to you next time.


Customer experience and employee experience go hand-in-hand in delighting your customers. So, provide the necessary tools and technology for your agents to succeed in delivering the best possible customer experience.

Most things can be enabled with better technology and processes. The first step is to identify the needs and take the necessary steps to enable and empower your customer service representatives.


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