Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

I always put the TV on after I wake up. I like to catch the news and the morning shows help perk me up. This morning I was doing some stretching exercises and almost hurt myself when I was jolted by the TV getting VERY loud suddenly. The cable box showed the channel I’d been watching but I had a very fuzzy loud Today show on my TV, which wasn’t what I was watching when it happened. I grabbed the remote but the volume buttons didn’t work and all the channels had the same show.

Aggravation set in. Not as much at the TV but at the thought of having to deal with calling the cable company and dealing with the service people. For me, that can be torture. I know many others feel the same way and see having to make calls to people who are supposed to give us service as pain and suffering. Trying to get service can mean:

* Being prompted by a recording to push lots of buttons.
* Screaming at an electronic woman who wants you to talk to her and you want a real person.
* Waiting on hold for what seems like hours (and occasionally getting disconnected after all that).
* Finally getting someone who says she has to transfer you to someone else, and waiting on hold again.
* Getting someone who’s clueless about your problem. Grrrrr…..

What’s a nice girl to do? When I called my cable company, I pushed the buttons after screaming “agent” at the electronic woman. Then I got a real woman who just didn’t understand my problem. She kept repeating the wrong things as I very clearly explained the problem. She was impatient and acted like it was all my fault. She tried to reboot my cable box as I kept thinking, “she’ll never fix it.” Hmmm… my thoughts made me right. She said she had to schedule an appointment for someone to come in. My gut told me not to accept anything this clueless woman said.

So I asked to speak with a supervisor. She insisted that a supervisor would just schedule the same appointment for next week as she would but I firmly stressed that I wanted one.

In my DoorMat days I wouldn’t have questioned what she said. I also wouldn’t have remained calm the way I did this morning. I’ve learned that once you let your anger take over, you’re not in control of your situation. You feel out of control. Plus nobody likes to deal with an angry person. I help folks who are nice to me much more than those who have an attitude. So do other people! I was exasperated when I was on hold, waiting to speak to a supervisor about my TV problem. A double grrrrrr….. feeling.

But instead of giving into to the anger, I changed my thought to, ”Everything will work out fine and easily.”

It calmed me down and allowed me to do what I try to do these days—have a friendly attitude toward the supervisor. I didn’t make insults about the first person I’d spoken to but let the supervisor know the woman couldn’t understand what I explained happened to my cable. And, I made it clear that I couldn’t wait till next week for a service person to come here. She immediately said she’d try to get someone to come over today. I thanked her profusely. She put me on hold to try to schedule it but then said she had a tech who’d talk to me first and see if he could help.

Sure! He was friendly. So was I. He went the distance for me. He was happy to have a customer with a positive attitude. He guided me to do some things the other person hadn’t and voila! My cable was fixed and I didn’t have to wait home for a repairman. He was extremely helpful. I expressed my gratitude and can contact him again with future problems.

Next time you have to deal with a service type of situation, calm down before making the call. Smile first too, so you can diffuse your bad mood a little. People can hear smiling over the phone, even if it’s forced. If you’re dealing with someone who seems incompetent or unhelpful, ask firmly to speak to a supervisor. Don’t take NO for an answer! I always get the person’s name on paper at the beginning of a conversation so I can report them if they don’t heed my wishes. I refused to accept her arguments about speaking to a supervisor and she got one for me.

The BIGGEST tool is to be NICE. Friendly and respectful will get you a lot more than venting your anger. It makes people go the distance for you. Time and time again I’ve gotten refunds, service and other perks that were above and beyond what was necessary, all because the person appreciated my friendly manner. Since being nice is in my nature, I prefer to behave like that then speak in an agitated way. I have the direct number for several customer service people for future problems, because they like me.

Down the road I’ll give more tips for dealing with bureaucratic nonsense within large corporations that put up walls against complaints. You can conquer them without having a nervous breakdown like I used to have. It begins with being resolute about getting satisfied, and a smile!

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