It took me less than ten minutes to cancel my home phone. During this time I spoke with two Telus customer service guys, shared a few laughs, got offered a 40% discount, and hung up victorious without having to wait the required full 30 days to be free of my phone bill. Not only did I save money, I saved a lot of time too.
In my *cough* humble opinion, I’ve never rocked a customer service call harder and with more squawky skill until now. So it’s a good thing I taped it. For you guys. To listen to. Ha!
So how did I make it past two customer service agents without pulling out my hair, succumbing to dehydration, or eating my landline? Easy. Take a listen to the actual 10-minute call for the joyous money-saving laughter — I’ll refer to the stellar talking points in my tips below so you too can get what you want from that dreaded customer service call sooner.
1. Know what you want. Ask for it.
It’s amazing how many people don’t know what they want. I’ve met a few of these indecisive folks over the years while working crappy jobs in customer service. They’d occupy my space in stores, blabber with me on the phone, or just stare at me blankly while attempting to make a decision. If you want something, you’ve gotta be firm and ask for it. If you wobble with your words, you may never get off the line.
Kerry: I’m calling ’cause I would like to cancel my landline, please.
Kerry: If we cancel it today, do I get a refund?
Don’t be an indecisive person when dealing with customer service agents. If you have a complaint, want a better deal, or require a change in service then ask for it. Be clearer than mud. If you’re a nervous asker, do yourself a solid and write down your request before reaching out to dial some service department.
2. For the love of blog: Press “0” or yelp “AGENT”
Your mission, should you choose to stay sane, is to locate the human being before getting buried in a hierarchical menu of options. Human beings can generally help you solve a problem. Hierarchical menus of options generally cause hyperventilation, perhaps hysteria.
If your menu of options likes numbers, try pressing “0” to connect with an agent. Other systems ask for your voice, so yell “agent” or “customer service” or “I’m gonna die” if a computerized lady voice wants input.
3. Track it. Tape it. Refer to it.
Customer service departments are sometimes trained to script you into oblivion while passing you through their tangled web of wonk. To avoid getting lost in their systems, download my handy Track Customer Service Calls Worksheet and keep track of agent names, times of calls, and file/case numbers to save yourself some grief if the call goes south.
Recording calls can be useful if you’re thrown some shade during a negotiation, so tapping your smartphone’s voice recording features to tape the conversation might be a good idea if you fear a less than stellar outcome. Keeping records or recordings of your issue in case you need to revisit the problem is being a smart consumer. Seriously.
4. Disarm: Ask, “How ya doin’?”
Customer service agents are people too, you know. These agents often have feelings, bad days, and dislike dealing with grumpy customers as much as you dislike dealing with them.
So to get a customer service conversation off to a good start, I often like to throw these agents off their scripted (or grumpy) game by asking them a common question: “How are you doing today?”
During my Telus call I asked both agents about their days. The first guy, Kevin, actually paused for reflection and laughed.
Kevin (Telus Agent): Good morning. Thank you for choosing Telus. This is Kevin speaking how may I help you?
Kerry: Umm. How are ya doin’ today?
Kevin (Telus Agent): (laughter) I’m well, yourself?
Kerry: Pretty good!
Treating your customer service agent like a human and getting in a few laughs at the outset not only builds rapport, but can help bolster your ask and resolve the issue sooner.
5. Smile. Be Nice. Eh!
Saying please, thank you, and not being a dick can get you far both in life and on the phone. Trying to smile while on hold or listening to Muzak is hard (I know), but being a pleasant person during your customer service call can do a lot to help win your way.
I went through my Telus call log and counted all the politeness shared. You’d think I was a Canadian, or something. Eh!
Number of times each word was said. Serious niceness all around.
- Thank you, Thanks: 9
- Exactly: 7
- Perfect: 5
- Good: 5
- Great: 4
- Excellent: 4
- Please, Pleasure: 4
- Alright: 3
- Nice: 2
Check out this happy nice exchange:
Kerry: There’s very few people that use the landline these days. They just text me.
Eric (Telus Agent): Yeah, I know, exactly. I mean, we don’t even talk on the phones anymore, right? It’s all communication through email and texting.
Kerry: Well I’m enjoying our conversation right now, so it’s quite lovely.
This call is so sweet and nice I can’t believe we didn’t all go out for beers afterwards.
6. Cut a deal. Get retention-ed. Or not.
The only certainty I have when signing up for a service is that eventually I’m going to cancel it. Over the past few blogging years I’ve cut my cable, quit my old cell for a contract-free unlocked iPhone, and now I’ve cancelled my landline.
Every time I’ve called to quit a service, the stealthy agents always try to retain my bill paying ways by cutting me a deal. Getting offered a discount on a service you’ve paid in full for eons can be maddening, unless that’s what you’re after in the first place. If you’re looking to pay less, ask for the ‘Retention Department’ where wing men and their agents live to keep you subscribed and paying.
Option One: Let the agent cut you a deal
Here’s the second Telus agent doing his best to keep me on the hook as a paying customer. Yeah, he offered to cut my bill by 40%. Sneaky.
Eric (Telus Agent): Alright, excellent. One thing I was going to mention with the phone, and this is completely optional if you were interested in it at all. For a six month period I’d bring your bill down to a cost of just $15 a month. What I’d actually do is, we could also add on a calling feature like website call display. I know you’re saying that of course the telemarketers are the main ones calling, it’s nice just to have the home phone line as a bit of a backup. We could do it for the price of $15. That call display would be added on there, that would be included in the cost, and that way you could identify who is calling, and ignore the call if need be.
Kerry: So it would be like the exact same phone line but for $15 a month?
Eric (Telus Agent): Yeah, exactly.
Kerry: So you’ve basically just cut my bill in half!
Eric (Telus Agent): Yeah, just about. It’s just, I mean, I see you’ve been with Telus for quite some time and we really do appreciate the fact that you have had your business with us for so long. And this is a way — I find that a lot of people tend to kind of miss the phone line when it is gone. They’ll say that they don’t really use it much, and you know, that may be the case, but again nice to just have there. Again, it’s completely optional and within that six months, let’s say that you are using it, then perfect, you will remain on there. And even if in the next month or two that you don’t want to use it, you say, just not using it at all, then definitely give us a call back and we can just cancel it. There’ll be no cancellation fee, or we won’t recoup any of the discount we’ve given. Basically, just lower the bill a little bit here, see if somebody might miss it in the next little while.
Kerry: That’s sneaky-sneaky! I mean, I’m still not using the phone, and for $15 a month, I’m sure I would rather put that on my cell phone bill. So, thanks for the offer of cutting my bill, but I think I’m going to pass.
Eric (Telus Agent): For sure. Not a problem. Again, just giving the options there.
Gotta love “the options” to pay less for the same damn thing. BTW: Calling your cable company and threatening to cut the cord can score you some pretty sweet discounts too. Just be prepared to walk if they do call your bluff.
Option Two: Stay strong, cancel!
Despite the generous price cut on offer, I still opted to cancel my landland. I didn’t land a refund for quitting the service mid-month as hoped, but I did manage to escape paying an additional 30 days as required by the cancellation terms of the contract. Phew. Victory.
Kerry: So it will be cancelled today, or?
Eric (Telus Agent): Well, whenever actually you’d like. I’m actually looking and your billing cycle is on the 18th of the month. So currently the bill you have right now is $23.67. That does cover you up until the 18th.
Eric (Telus Agent): So if you like we can basically just keep it running up until that time and yeah it will just disconnect with no further charges coming from it unless there’s any long distance usage or anything like that
Kerry: If we cancel it today, do I get a refund?
Eric (Telus Agent): There wouldn’t be any credit back. We do generally require 30 days notice of cancellation, so even though it’s within the 30 days here basically until your next bill cycle comes out, we’ll just basically have the charges run up until the 18th, and that will be that.
Kerry: Ok, so I guess then if I get no refund, then we might as well run it up until the 18th and cancel it at that point.
Escaping a few extra charges is a total win, even if the final result is not exactly what you wanted.
Be prepared to escalate the call to a supervisor if your agent is unhelpful or unable to meet your needs. Since my call went smoothly, I had no need to move up the customer service food chain.
Getting what you want (or need) from a customer service call is not impossible. Start by having a goal or anticipated outcome, ask away while being a pleasant person, and cut a deal if you’re in the market for a discount. Quitting the service is cool too, though.
Lastly, if you’re calling Telus in the near future, be sure to send my squawky best to Eric and Kevin. I probably owe them a beer.
Your Turn: Have an awesome or awful customer service story to share?