Get What You Want Without Being a Jerk

I joked the other day that MomJovi needed to hire me as her bitch — because she’s just too darn nice. The conversation stemmed from her decision to graciously go through one of those unending phone surveys…

I listened to her say, “I’d give it an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. I’d give that one a 4. I’d say that’s a 6” and laughed. She just could not bring herself to say “no thanks” and hang up.

Me? I don’t have that problem. Especially when the spammers come my way. I’m not a jerk, but I am firm. I remember that the people calling, tweeting or emailing are most likely hard workers who have a thankless job. But again…I say “no thanks.”

I get what I want.

The one thing I DON’T do? I try very hard not to make social media my first platform for getting customer service. - Sorry I called, emailed, or IM'd you from three feet away

I see so many people bitching, whining and moaning on Twitter and Facebook — without ever having tried to reach out to the people who could actually solve their problem.

Social media is amazing. But it’s unfair to use it as a lazy person’s way of asking for support. If you’ve ever worked in customer service, you know how painful it is to hear that your website is broken, or that your product isn’t working. You know that being scolded or mocked is not only a professional blow, but often a personal one. And when it’s something that could have been fixed easily, it’s disheartening to see that one tweet can take down your entire business.

I’ve had cause to reach out to several companies through social media recently, but it was never my first step.

Cases in point:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/kwidrick/status/143804762637344769″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/kwidrick/status/141935277366190080″]

(And yes, I see the irony of working so dang hard to get my order for the product that would eventually make me look like Santa Claus after his trip from the North Pole. And no, they never tweeted or emailed me back. I ended up calling four times to get the order placed.)

I ONLY went to Twitter because I’d not had success resolving my issue on the phone or through a ticket on their websites.

And even then, I didn’t bitch (much), although I did try and convey the urgency of the situation.

If you stuck around this long, you’re probably waiting for me to pay off the title of the post. So:

Get What You Want Without Being a Jerk

1) When you have a problem, make sure it’s not user error.

If you’re using a website, make sure that you check different browsers. Perhaps something works on Chrome, but not Firefox…perhaps you need to clear your cache. Did you forget something simple like a captcha code? Make sure that you are not doing something that has caused the transaction to fail.

(By the way, I learned all of step #1 from the developers I work with at Growing Bolder. Thanks, guys! I’m trying!)

If you have a product, make sure that you’ve read the guides. Did you forget to push a button or perhaps charge something?

2) Try to use the company’s established support resources.

I know it can be frustrating to try and track down a solution, but more often than not, your question is answered in FAQs or forums, and if not, almost every company has some type of ticket system you can use to file your case. Most likely, you’ll have to enter in the information from Step 1 anyway (your browser, your computer type, etc.), so it’s worth trying to get that done first. If you have a problem that needs to be solved ASAP, look for 24/7 phone numbers or online chat help.

3) Be patient!

If a ticket system says it will take 24 to 48 hours to solve, and you can wait…wait. If you can’t, try those emergency phone calls, or use social media to find the right person to talk to. In the first tweet above, WebEx tweeted me within 5 minutes, I had an email within 8 minutes, and the problem was solved over the phone in less than 30 minutes.

4) Ask your followers for help.

If you have tried all of the above and still have not had any luck, ask your Facebook and Twitter friends for help finding a contact. So many of the businesses you are trying to buy from are small, and staffed by people who wear many hats. So if you can find an “in,” you can get your problem solved without trashing the business on social media.

If after ALL of that, you’re still not getting what you need…you can become a mini jerk. A lowercase “j” jerk. (Again, case in point.) Share your problems, what you tried to do to find a solution, and why you can’t support the company anymore. But leave the door open. If that company is smart, it will reach out to you ASAP, apologize and fix the problem.

And if you’ve been a jerk, you’ll feel like one…please, put yourself in the places of the small businesses that are just trying to do the right things. And remember that one tweet can make or break an entire company.

Final note: if you’re still going to be a jerk, be awesome, too. Be equally awesome. Share the good that you see, not just the bad.

Case in point:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/kwidrick/status/142026261454270465″]

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  1. says

    I think it is good to be reminded that the person at the other end of the phone or behind the counter is human…I draw many more successes by being friendly and happy to start…when it is necessary, I now am able to shift into “I will NICE you to death” and get what I need. I hope you have better luck returning the Personal Microderm thingie than you did ordering it!

    • says

      I’ll be honest though, more often than not people moaning on Twitter and Facebook DO reach out but companies tend to outsource and ignore customer service, especially the larger companies!

  2. says

    I also get frustrated when I see people whining on Twitter/Facebook about their experiences but never saying thank you for great ones. I really appreciate your suggestion to give kudos to places that are doing good things (or even just “what they’re supposed to be doing” cause that’s not always what happens these days)! I want to start doing more of that for sure.

  3. says

    Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I had a major snafu with a daily deal site yesterday. I was thinking “oh no, you don’t want to mess with me…I’ll slam you all over the SM world…” but luckily, the problem was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Thanks for reminding me I need to tweet about how they successfully resolved the situation.

  4. says

    Love this! And I 100% agree that if you complain about companies on Twitter, make sure you also show praise through Twitter. When I converse with a company through Twitter, I try to think to myself “What if some random new person looked at your Twitter feed, would they just see me complaining?” The difference between complaining and constructive feedback is often a fine line, but its one that has to be examined.

  5. says

    I used to work in customer service and it is just about the most awful thing I have ever done. Being screamed at all day for things that weren’t my fault? I had exactly one nice call in my short three months (summer job) of working. Turns out the woman on the phone was recently engaged, as was I at the time. So we discussed wedding plans. Most pleasant conversation I ever had!

  6. says

    I recently had to tweet & FB about a company that after being on hold on phone for over an hour and then talking to 3 incompetent people I finally tweeted..and got immediate response and issue resolved…I tried the other methods…they didn’t work…yet a simple tweet was seen by ‘higher ups’ and issue resolved in under 5 mins.

    It has it’s place but like you said, only after other avenues have been explored to resolve issue/problem, etc

  7. says

    Totally agree! I’ve learned the hard way those lessons, especially number 1 and use the resources out there to the fullest before calling for support. There’s also a good sense of accomplishment when you can figure it out on your own.

  8. says

    Businesses don’t like customer complaints, but that doesn’t mean they should ignore them. Complaints won’t go away, that’s why customer service has to get better and they need to start caring about you, me, and everybody else on the web! Hello it’s 2012 not 1990 :)

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