6 Things You Can Say To Customer Service Reps To Actually Save Money

You guys, I love talking with customer service reps.

Most people find that super weird. Why would you like to be put on hold? Why would you like battling with reps only to be told that “there’s nothing we can do”?

Why do I love it? Because I understand how to do it. Nine times out of ten, I succeed in getting what I want (and sometimes, more than what I want.) I’ve literally saved thousands of dollars, and sometimes earned money/perks, by simply taking a few minutes to call or tweet customer service.

I get it: you don’t want to be that person who complains about every little thing, and I totally understand. But you’re paying for an awesome customer experience (if it’s a major purchase, then even more reason for them to make it right!) That is your hard-earned money, and if you weren’t satisfied in any way, you should have no problem asking the company to fix it.

I just took a trip to Costa Rica with a friend, and literally earned over $350 in miles, travel credit, and perks by contacting the airline’s customer service when something went wrong (first, a major delay and second, our seat-back screens didn’t work on our international flight.) At a time when companies are putting more stock in loyal customers — and airlines especially are scrambling to earn your business — demanding what you paid for just makes sense.

When I tell my friends about my mini-obsession, they say they’d love to do it, too, but have no idea how. I’ve prepared an exact script for you, whether you’re on the phone or on social media/email, that has been proven to work for me.

1. Be polite and jovial…the entire time

If you’re on the phone, the customer service rep will usually state their name and ask how can they help you. They will be more willing to go out of their way to help if you treat them like a real human (shocking, I know).

Here’s what you say: “Hello [name], how are you? I’m doing fine, thank you for asking. I’m having an issue and I would love for you to help me.”

By asking them to help, you’re immediately giving them an opportunity for a win. Their brain should go, “Help? Yes! I can do that! That’s what I’m here for!”

2. State what happened

No matter how angry or fed up you are, make sure to still be kind and calm. You want to mention what you expected to happen (being billed a certain amount, a smooth flight, etc.), and why that didn’t happen. Say why you’re frustrated by it, but do not get upset. Mention that you’re disappointed or dissatisfied with the service you received.

3. Show your loyalty

Companies are more able and excited to help you if you can demonstrate you’re a repeat customer. They want you to continue doing business with them, and for you to have a great experience.

Here’s what you say: “As a [mileage plan member, a 5-year Verizon customer, etc.], I’d really love to continue being a loyal, valued customer.”

Not a loyal customer? Turn it on them. “I’d really love for you to earn my loyalty and business today.”

4. Seal it with the zinger

You now want to offer them the opportunity to make the situation right. Many people say you should ask for exactly what you want (which can work). I personally don’t like to do this, because sometimes you can get more than what you would have requested.

Here’s what you say: “I want to have a great customer experience today with [company]. What can you do for me?”

5. Didn’t work? Don’t give up

If you’re ready to throw in the towel at, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do,” think again. Companies know you’re already uncomfortable — most people will say “thank you” and hang up. You’re not most people. Repeat numbers 2 and 3, expressing your loyalty again, and ask if there is ANYTHING they can do for you. Never beg, but now you want to be a bit more forceful. Remind them that you want to have a great customer experience today, and that they have the opportunity to make it happen.

I was once on the phone with a company for a half hour to get a $140 charge overturned. The customer service rep gave me about 15 chances to walk away by saying there was nothing he could do, but I didn’t stop. I was patient, calm, and kind (even when he put me on hold for 10 minutes). In my persistence, I walked away with $140 back in my pocket.

6. Thank them

Sometimes they don’t budge. It happens. Keep your cool: thank them for their time, and sign off. If you’re still not satisfied (and hell, I never am), use either an alternative method of contacting them, or wait a day and call back (I’ve often gotten to speak with someone else who was way more helpful).

*****

I’d love to know how these techniques work for you. Even if there isn’t something frustrating that happened (product broke, flight delayed), this script works for lowering your more consistent bills, or getting free perks. Spend 10 minutes: call your cable provider, insurance company, frequent airline, and see what happens!

Tori Dunlap is an award-winning social media marketer and entrepreneur. Founder of victori media, helping 20-somethings live life victoriously. Obsessed with finding cheap flights, reading a good book in the bathtub, and you. Follow her on Instagram here.

Image via Unsplash

  • Summer

    Speaking as someone who used to work in a call center of a major wireless provider, there’s some good advice here and the author here is correct in that whomever you are speaking to on the phone very likely does have more power to cut you a break than you might think (ie; don’t be that person who gets through and immediately demands a supervisor). However….please don’t with the jargon-laden, pre-scripted statements that make you come across as though you think you’re making the employee’s whole day just by having landed your call. If I answer the phone and you burst through the line with an excessively chipper “HI THERE, SUMMER! I hope you’re well today! I’m calling to see what you can offer to earn my loyalty and satisfaction as a Brand ABC customer!!” I’m going to roll my eyes at your faux niceties. Yes, customer service reps have a job to do and yes, companies generally want to keep their users happy, but it’s very easy to tell when someone is being extra, syrupy-sweet nice in hopes of getting something for their own benefit. Your best bet is just to treat the rep as a human being and talk to them like you would anyone else. There’s no need to speak in a high-pitched, uber-friendly voice and use a slew of industry buzzwords. This isn’t a computer scanning your resume for keywords to determine if you should be moved to the next round of applicants. Just talk to the rep like a real person and don’t be an asshole, even if an error has occurred or you somehow have been slighted. A simple, “hey, I noticed the interest rate on my credit card is XX%. I’m wondering if it’s possible to lower that rate since I’ve had the card for X years and I always pay on time,” or something like, “I’m thinking about canceling my cable service since I rarely watch TV, but I’m undecided. Do you have any promotions going on right now that would make it worth keeping?” will suffice. Feel free to point out that you’ve been with the company for however long or that you have a good payment history or that you’re whatever frequent-user status, but please don’t insult anyone’s intelligence by insinuating that you’re doing the company a huge favor by calling in today to give them the opportunity to service you.

    • Tori Dunlap

      Summer, I completely agree. If you’re not genuine, you won’t get anywhere. I definitely don’t recommend being sugary sweet, and hope by writing this post, people who come up against a frustrating situation can remember to stay calm and be kind, as they’re speaking to a real human!

    • Seriously, all of this. I couldn’t have articulated it better. I spent many a year on the other side of that customer service line, and the only thing more eyeroll worthy than a screamer was a HI WE’RE BEST FRIENDSer.

      To get your issue resolved, be a human being. Be polite and kind of throw in a joke if you can. Make smalltalk if the situation allows for it; treat the rep like you would any other new acquaintance. At the end of the call, say thank you and mean it – that’s literally it.

      Please don’t be HA HA GUESS IF YOU CAN’T FIND THE PRICE THEN IT’S FREE guy.

  • Hailey

    These are great! I always remind myself that you’re more likely to get help from a customer service rep if you book/buy directly through their system – particularly with travel purchases. Airlines, hotels, etc. are way more likely to give you points or upgrades if you DIDN’T go through Kayak, Expedia, or another aggregator. They’re already paying those guys a cut to get your reservation, so they won’t exactly be hyped for an opportunity to spend more money on you.

  • Ellie Hamilton

    The other day I had a check bounce. I called the bank and just politely told the rep, “I had a check that bounced. Can you wave the $35 fee?” I didn’t explain why I deserved it or anything, he just went right ahead and did it after seeing I had been with that bank for 7 years and had never bounced a check. Sometimes that kind of stuff is automatically eligible the first strike simply because of your customer loyalty! (This has also worked for me with annual phone bills fees or cable companies upping my rate)

    • Adriane

      When I worked retail in a bank, it was always the nicer customers that I was willing to work to have fees waived for. If you come in demanding that I do something or telling me that I (sometimes the bank, other times me personally) was stealing money from you, I would rather explain to you (politely) why it was your mistake and not ours than get your fee reversed (I most of the time didn’t have the power to just reverse the fees and instead had to get a manager involved).

  • I can definitely testify to this having both worked as a customer service rep years ago and recently dealing with my insurance company. Basically the claim was filed incorrectly and I needed to make some calls to have it refiled. I was extra nice to rep at the insurance company who answered the phone sounding ready for a rude customer. I was probably the only nice person she dealt with all day and, as a result, I got everything waived. I’m still not 100% sure I should have gotten all the charges waived, but hey, I’ll take it.