How To Mind Control Customer Service Reps

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Credit goes to consumerist.com

Reader Llona says that people in her family have called her a consumer advocate since she was sixteen, and now she is going to share with us 2,177 words on the customer service tactics and techniques she uses to get satisfaction. She writes, "in 99% of situations, it allows you to reach an agreeable solution to almost any problem. It is something I do for family and friends, and for myself." Some of her methods have been mentioned in various ways on the site before but others are completely unique. And by the time you read her true success story at the end, you'll swear she has Jedi mind-control over customer service reps. It boils down to, without raising your voice, asserting control over the conversation from the beginning and then never relinquishing that power.

Llona writes:

"Keep in mind, please, that these rules require that you keep a calm, even head, or at least the appearance and sound of one, and you must have the audacity not to ASK for anything. You will be rude, and you will seem to have entitlement issues. But you will get the job done.

Here are the basic guidelines. The longer and more often you end up doing this, you will find yourself using your own language and tricks. Eventually, you will be able to determine within a few seconds whether the person you have on the phone is the correct person to speak to.

If all of this fails and you happen to be female, try asking a male relative or friend to do it, following the same steps. It sounds wrong, but people respond to voices, and in today's society, a male voice will sometimes go farther. I am female, however, and if you have a strong enough tone and voice, in most cases, you won't need to resort to that.

1. Always maintain a calm, collected tone
Keep your voice even, keep your tone low, and do not lose your temper. If you find yourself getting upset, place the person on hold for a moment, take a slow, deep breath, and pick the phone back up. If they have hung up on you, mention it when you call back.

2 . Before you call, outline the situation for yourself, and decide how you want it solved
Write down several options you would be willing to accept, and keep the page in front of you when you call.

3. Always get the name of the person who answered the phone, even if you speak to them for only a moment
Write the name down, as well as any other person you connect to. Keep notes of who said what.

4. When you get a CSR on the phone, immediately ask to speak to a supervisor
When/if they insist that they can help you, keeping your tone low and even, state again that you need to speak to a supervisor. Not want, need. If they again insist, state in a clear and calm, low tone, that they WILL connect you to a supervisor, now. Do not yell, shout, or raise your voice or tone. "No. You are going to get a supervisor for me. Thank you. I'll wait." Say "thank you" immediately. Do not wait for them to answer your request first. If they again insist, hang up immediately. Call back. If you get the same person, make the request again, and if they again refuse, hang up, wait one hour for a shift change, and then call back. Do not give the initial person your name. They do not need it.

5. Once you are connected with a supervisor, introduce yourself, and then inform the person that you have a situation that they are going to fix
Do not say "that you need to fix" or "that I want fixed" or "that I need fixed." You know they will fix it. "I have a situation that you are going to fix for me today. I appreciate your patience." If they say they will try, state again that you're sure they will fix it for you. "No, you'll fix it. Don't worry." Reassure THEM. It will confuse them enough that they will allow you to explain your situation.

6. Explain your situation in a calm, even tone. Do not pause for them to respond until the entire situation/story has been told
Simply tell it as if you are dictating a letter. Once the entire situation has been explained, do not pause. Immediately give them the first option of how it should be fixed, in a simple, declarative sentence. "...this is the situation as it stands at this moment, and the reason I am calling. So what you will be doing for me today is..." or "..so what we need to do today is..."

7. If the supervisor insists that your solution is outside of policy, ask for the full policy
Do not accept "It's just not policy to do this." You want a full description of the policy. This does not mean twenty pages, faxed. A simple description of the section they feel affects your situation is what you need from them. IF they again simply say "It isn't policy to __", you say "That isn't a policy. What, exactly, is your policy in this situation?" If they refuse to give you the policy, ask for their supervisor, or a corporate number - if you choose to or must call corporate, refer to *A - however, this will most likely not be necessary. If they give you the policy, continue to step 8.

8. Listen carefully to the policy, then scan your list for solutions that fall within it
If none of your solutions fall within their policy, inform them of your viable choices, and ask them how they are going to solve your problem. Do not ask if they will. Ask how. "So, how are we going to resolve this issue?" not "Isn't there anything you can do?" or "there must be something you can do." There is always something they can do. Do not ask. It is fact. If they inform you that there is nothing they can do, again ask for their supervisor or a corporate number.

9. At this point the person should be working with you for a solution. Continue to keep a calm tone until you reach an acceptable solution
Be sure to refer to the person by name at least twice, to make sure they know you remember it. If they say they will call back, ask for their direct line. If they do not have one, again ask for their supervisor or a corporate number.

10. You SHOULD now have a solution
Write down the details, making sure to read it back to the person on the other end of the line, and make sure to repeat their name, as well as writing it next to the solution that has been reached. If it is not an immediately solvable problem (returns, or delivery, etc) get a time estimate. "And this will be here by....". You can, at this point as well, ask for a direct line, in case you have issues and need to speak to them again. Then thank them for their time and hang up.

11. If longer than the specified time goes past and the solution has not gone into effect, call the same number and ask for the person by name
If this person is unavailable or does not exist (there is always the chance) go back through your notes and ask for the person you spoke to immediately previous. Throughout this conversation remember to keep your tone calm and even. If the person you spoke to is unreachable, again, ask for a supervisor, and then immediately ask that supervisor for a corporate number. If the supervisor offers to help you, you may either attempt to work with this person, or simply call corporate.

*A - Calling Corporate

12. Keep your tone even. Introduce yourself immediately and ask to speak to a person who can solve your problem
Use those words. "Hello, my name is ___. I have an issue. Please connect me to someone who can solve it today."

13. When you are connected, introduce yourself again. Repeat step 6
More than likely, the person you are speaking to will either do what you've suggested, or will offer an alternative. At this point, if you continue to follow these basic guides, you should reach a solution fairly quickly. Remember to continue to escalate until you reach someone who will solve your problem.

This works even if the problem is not your own. This works even if the problem is not your own, and you are dealing with the infamous Best Buy. I have a success story to share now.

Currently living with me is my sister-in-law. She moved from Texas. A year or so before she moved to California, there was an issue with her computer. Her parents are fairly computer illiterate, but had purchased the PC as a gift for her, and therefore did it on their own. They purchased a floor model, and were not informed, and did not know to ask, that the OS disk was not included. They were not informed that they would need to make a boot disk themselves, and neither was my sister.

Six months later, my sister's computer ran out of space, and she followed the on-screen instructions to free some up, running Disk Cleanup. Disk Cleanup removed essential files from the OS, causing the computer to brick. A full re-install was necessary. She called Best Buy and they told her it would cost over $100 to reload the computer. She called me in a panic, as she and her parents were living off her father's Army pension at the time and could not afford the fee.

I called the Best Buy store's direct number, and asked to speak to a manager. I was told none was there. I waited one hour, and called back. This time I got Jose. I introduced myself and let him know that I was calling on behalf of a friend that was having an issue, and thanked him for solving it for me today. I then explained to him that my friend had been given a computer without an OS disk, and now needed to reload the computer, but had been told it would cost quite a bit of money. He informed me that she was told when the computer was purchased that she needed to create a boot disk. I informed him that she was not, and that he would need to reload the computer without charge. He said he could not do that. I calmly pointed out that it is very bad policy to charge a customer for something he should never have done in the first place, and that the operating system was sold with the computer, and since the disk was not included, we basically had two options available to us - he could either issue her a free copy of Windows XP, or reload the computer free of charge. I asked him which solution he felt would be best for her. He told me that they could do neither, and I asked him how he would be solving it. He asked me to hold for a moment, then came back on the line, and told me to have her come in, and he would take care of it.

I called my sister and gave her Jose's name and told her to ask for him directly once in the store, because he would be taking care of her problem. She and her mother went, and he met them. Again, they were informed that it would cost to reload the computer. The exact charge came to $97.53 with taxes. In a panic, my sister called me, and I told her that he was not going to charge her. She said he was. I asked her to put him on the phone.

Here's the clincher - when faced with having to speak to me again, he quickly changed his mind and offered an acceptable solution to the problem: he would issue them a gift card for the exact amount, and they would use that to pay for the service. We all agreed to the terms, and he came back exactly two minutes later with a gift card for the exact charge, and handed it to the cashier.

At no point did I yell, or in any way raise my voice. I did not threaten him, or mention lawyers or the business bureau. I simply informed him of what he would be doing, and he did it. While it took a bit of reinforcement, eventually he did come up with a solution that was both within his policy, and right by the consumer. This is not a 'talent', it is a skill, and by following these steps you can usually avoid the horrific experiences many consumers have.

Not to mention gain a wonderful story. My sister tells it to anyone we meet who is having consumer issues similar to hers.

I hope this helps at least one person. You will really be amazed just how effective these methods can be.

- Lona"

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
I used to get upset pretty easily while dealing with CSR's. I would try to start off calm, but I quickly lost it. It was... (more)

zao275 (Jan. 12, 2008 @ 1:03p) |

An unpronounceable name means that the employee works in the United States.

larrymoencurly (Jan. 12, 2008 @ 9:02p) |

What about George Fernandes, the former defense minister of India?

larrymoencurly (Jan. 12, 2008 @ 9:14p) |

Quick Summary is created and edited by users like you... Add FAQ's, Links and other Relevant Information by clicking the edit button in the lower right hand corner of this message.
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It's not exactly mind control...most of the time all you have to do to get your issue resolved is to be polite and respectful while remaining assertive. The person at the other end of the phone is not your enemy, unless you make them one.

I have a piece of social engineering that I learned from another lawyer... and it appears to work very well.

Example:

"HI THIS IS SUSIE, HOW CAN I HELP YOU"

"hi susie, I am trying to get issue X resolved, can you help me?"

I don't know why, but addressing the people by name seems to be effective, starting the conversation out on the right tone by mirroring.

Silly story. I got a replacement OS disk from Dell for free. Didn't need no stinking manager and its quite possible the parents that bought the PC were told to make a boot disk, it will certainly be in the instructions.

What do you do if you can't pronounce their name?

It would work even better if you called her Suze.

This Llona person is a bit too firm, I would take her advice , but dial it down a notch. The object is to work with the CSR to get what we want, not see how much we can intimidate them and back them in a corner.

naas said: What do you do if you can't pronounce their name?you always can... the companies give them all fake American names.

Most problems can be solved by regular CSRs. Asking to be transferred to a supervisor immediately may not be productive. Listen for and use CSR's name, make sure you know what you want to accomplish before the call (and how likely you are to succeed).

naas said: What do you do if you can't pronounce their name?
If I can't pronounce their name, I just call them Bob.

ArbolLoco said: naas said: What do you do if you can't pronounce their name?you always can... the companies give them all fake American names.
One time I asked for the name of a rep who was in India, and I'd gotten so sick of the fake American names that when he told me his name was Bob or whatever, I replied, "I know that's not your name!" But he refused to admit it and told me that was the name his parents gave him, so I didn't press the issue.

Economist said: Most problems can be solved by regular CSRs. Asking to be transferred to a supervisor immediately may not be productive. Listen for and use CSR's name, make sure you know what you want to accomplish before the call (and how likely you are to succeed).

I agree. In a former life I worked in a call center. The supervisors were clueless how anything worked. They were only supervisors because they had experience in getting CSRs to get through the call as quickly as possible & they were knowledgable about call quality critiques (no pauses, following proper scripts, etc). They had no clue how to resolve problems or make things work. As a result, whenever anyone asked for a supervisor, we were always told to tell people none was available and it would be 24-48 hours for a supervisor callback. It always resulted in my being able to find out the actual problem and resolve it. If a colleague did get a supervisor callback request, it was usually me or another CSR that would actually make the call back. We would have a good laugh at the people because they would end up unnessarily waiting 48 hours.

Granted many CSRs are clueless, but not all. Some are very capable of resolving issues.

beethovengirl said: ArbolLoco said: naas said: What do you do if you can't pronounce their name?you always can... the companies give them all fake American names.
One time I asked for the name of a rep who was in India, and I'd gotten so sick of the fake American names that when he told me his name was Bob or whatever, I replied, "I know that's not your name!" But he refused to admit it and told me that was the name his parents gave him, so I didn't press the issue.


I once had a CSR answer the phone, and in a deep southern drawl say, 'howdy, this here is Elvis, how may I help ewe?'. My immediate thought: 'this guy really has talent for having English as a second language'.

captainwho said: naas said: What do you do if you can't pronounce their name?
If I can't pronounce their name, I just call them Bob.


I have spoken with so many John Smith at various outsourced call centers it's not even funny.

Oh Snap!

I think Llona is a little harsh. I prefer the softer and gentler method. I due use the CSR's name often. I also pay attention to how fluid the CSR speaks at the start of the call. Most times a more experienced CSR can jump through the hoops do get things done for you, but a NooB CSR, might stumble. I've often disconnected myself while I'm talking (looks more like a technical problem to the CSR) and called right back to get another agent.

I worked in a call center right after college for a year, and I can tell you that this LLona person is a retard.

First of all, demanding to talk to a supervisor is often counterproductive, as people have already said, not to mention the fact that with a clueless CSR you might have ended up with an even better deal than you imagined.

As far as not ever getting mad, bad advice. Never start the call mad, but if you dont get what you want, you have nothing to lose by acting like you are mad. (You shouldnt actually GET mad, but acting like it is ok if being nice didnt work)

Basically as I have said before in another thread, if you want to get the CSR/Manager to do something for you, just keep asking, dont take no for an answer. Just keep saying the same thing over and over again, and as long as you rephrase things a bit, they will evenutally get sick of telling you no and give up.

I can tell you that from personal experience, I have only ONCE in my lifetime been turned down when calling and asking for something special, fee waived, etc. on the telephone. That was the time that I was calling the phone company and trying to get them to tell me MY OWN PHONE NUMBER. Long story, but I literally spent the whole day on the phone with Ameritech and they refused to give me my own phone number, even when I called executive relations. (I didnt know the number because I had a cell and hooked up the phone for my computer, then never got the first bill. I called when they shut off the line for non payment and told them what happened, and said that I didnt have my number, but could they look it up for me. They were very suprised that I didnt know my own phone number. I was much more suprised when I learned that THEY didnt know my own phone number. (At least they claimed they didnt).

This article has some good points, but being "rude" is no way to get what you want, and neither is beating up on CSRs. My job involves some guest calls, and if a person demands to speak to a supervisor, my general manager will be thrilled to speak to them--he absolutely delights in shutting down rude people. If a guest complains to corporate, it will come right back our property, and we will keep telling them no until they get the point.

The best way to get anything done in my experience is to be assertive, but not demanding. I will do anything in my power for a guest who treats me like a real person.

I got to the part where she states that you _tell_ the supervisor what they are going to do. She was loosing me up to that point and after reading that I realized no need to go any further, this lady is _clueless_. How to get people to help you... start out by telling them what they are going to do for you. Heck, as long as you at it, tell them how to do their job as well. This will score big points! What a way to shut someone down in the first 5 seconds of the call. First the supervisor hears that someone is calling and immediately demanded a supervisor and won't give any information... then in the first 5 seconds they get told what they are going to do. Like I stated, I stop reading right there... but was the next step to tell the supervisor how much more money you make then them?

Most of this is poor advice that is likely to make the person you are talking to resent you and less likely to want to help you.

HAHA this lady is an idiot, her tactics will get you nowhere and probably disconnected. I would love to get her phone call as an escalation. CSR's and ESPECIALLY escalation csr's are taught to control the call the whole time, and we can becuase you want us to do something for you, we need nothing from you. if you compain it will get nowhere, i had tons of complaints and was a top supervisor.(those of you who call and complain and say i want them fired...not happening) just be nice, we'll be nice back. its that simple, if you want to get what you want from me then tell me what you want and be nice about it, tell me why u want it or deserve it and i'll see what i can do for you. sometimes i can, sometimes i can't, if not and im able i will counter offer, i have not been able to take a late fee off an account, but i have waived half of someones interest that month or split the late fee instead.

Yep, in my short time in a retirement plan call center, I can guarandamntee the quickest way to get me to stop caring/tune out/"accidentally" disconnect you would be to start presuming what I'm going to do vs. asking (ie talking like a human to another human).
"You're going to do this"
"Oh really?" *click* "Apparently you don't know **** because hanging up on you wasn't "this".

working for a cell phone company, i hear customers all the time on the phone with customer service. When you yell and scream nothing ever gets done, ive seen hundreds of dollars taken off bills and other very nice things happen only to people that are polite and not to mention REALISTIC.

Sounds like Llona got her hands on some scientology pamplets on how to "handle" people when you "play the game." This is not mind control. It's bullying.

naas said: What do you do if you can't pronounce their name?

What do you do if they can't pronounce yours?

Repeat after me..L-l-l-l-ona. You can do it. No, you will do it!

turtlebug said: Sounds like Llona got her hands on some scientology pamplets on how to "handle" people when you "play the game." This is not mind control. It's bullying.Yea I finally read [half] of the OP and it really is garbage.

I should have posted a disclaimer when I posted a Consumerist story last week: Consumerist really posts a lot of worthless crap and regularly gives patently false legal advice. Once in awhile they get a good story, but for the most part it is people complaining because a Wal-Mart cashier was rude to them at the Poughkeepsie location.

pisistratus said: How To Mind Control Customer Service Reps What if they respond by saying 'Your Jedi mind tricks won't work on me?'

As soon as videophones arrive I'll use this and take over the world with my autodialer!!!

muahahahaha

ChinaRider said: pisistratus said: How To Mind Control Customer Service Reps What if they respond by saying 'Your Jedi mind tricks won't work on me?'

Well then, there's no choice except to pull out your light saber and dispatch them. Put your brain in gear man!

WalStMonky said: ChinaRider said: pisistratus said: How To Mind Control Customer Service Reps What if they respond by saying 'Your Jedi mind tricks won't work on me?'

Well then, there's no choice except to pull out your light saber and dispatch them. Put your brain in gear man!

I'll do that, right after light saber over tcp/ip is invented.

ArbolLoco said: turtlebug said: Sounds like Llona got her hands on some scientology pamplets on how to "handle" people when you "play the game." This is not mind control. It's bullying.Yea I finally read [half] of the OP and it really is garbage.

I should have posted a disclaimer when I posted a Consumerist story last week: Consumerist really posts a lot of worthless crap and regularly gives patently false legal advice. Once in awhile they get a good story, but for the most part it is people complaining because a Wal-Mart cashier was rude to them at the Poughkeepsie location.


The post was made for discussion and not for direct unthoughtful use. There are some good points, i.e. be calm, yet there are some things I would not do because it's rude.

Smart people take what is good, dismiss everything not so good, and, if they want, share their experience.

The Consumerist is a great source of disinformation. They go for quantity not quality. They've been embarrassed many times by their "sources" but never seem to learn their lesson.

As a technical support specialist working with internal employees at my company most individuals are much nicer than the general public, but I occasionally get a**holes who are having a bad day when things aren't working for them. There is nothing that peeves me more than someone demanding that I do something for them. I am more than receptive and willing to help resolve their problem if they just explain it clearly and ask politely. Speaking to a CSR in a way that is empowering or gives them a challenge, such as "Are you able to help me with this problem? I would really appreciate it!" makes them feel good when they actually are able to resolve it. Demanding or expecting they do something will only turn them off to wanting to help you. If I took Llola's call I would say to myself, "I need to do what for this b****??"

pisistratus said: The post was made for discussion and not for direct unthoughtful use. There are some good points, i.e. be calm, yet there are some things I would not do because it's rude.

Smart people take what is good, dismiss everything not so good, and, if they want, share their experience.
Then perhaps next time you post something like this you can add your own feedback instead of simply copy-and-pasting the entire article verbatim.

My first thought after reading the title was...

<Mind Control ON: Talk.... Sexy.... to.... me, Talk........ Sexy......... to........ me>

Save $$$$ over the 900 line.

From experience working 5 months in CSR position, this maybe works when you're in a situation where the company you're calling did something wrong and has to correct it but otherwise you're just shooting yourself in the foot.

It always depends on what type of customer you are also. If you're a cash cow, rude or not, I'll waive that late fee knowing the bank will get it back in multiples at the end of the month.

But outside of strict customer profitability, you're only hurting your chances with CSR by being rude, abusive, annoying, or pushy. The nicer the customer was, the better the chances of me working hard to resolve the issue closer to the limit of what I could do.

Now for OP, I can't help wonder if their alledged success rate isn't simply due to being a "good" customer ...

I do customer service for human resources, and this wont work. My companies procedure is that every caller fist has to answer six questions (are you an employee, what is your social security number or employee identification number, what is your name, what is your address, what is your daytime phone number, and what is your work email address). If they donít answer these questions, then they donít get anywhere. If they ask for a supervisor, then they must give a reason so that I may research it, and inform the supervisor of the back-story. One cannot simply call blind and ask for a supervisor, and actually get one where I work.

Heck even if someone calls to ask what day of the week it is, they must first answer those six questions [I kid, but not too much].

I miss my dear Lyta Alexander!

I've done CSR work and I went out of my way to help people who treated me like a human being. I tried to assist everyone who called, rude or not, but I would never have gone out of my way to help anyone like Llona who was rude or arrogant or has entitlement issues.

Skipping 16 Messages...
beethovengirl said: One time I asked for the name of a rep who was in India, and I'd gotten so sick of the fake American names that when he told me his name was Bob or whatever, I replied, "I know that's not your name!" But he refused to admit it and told me that was the name his parents gave him, so I didn't press the issue.What about George Fernandes, the former defense minister of India?



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