Employed for Good

A nonprofit professional's take on doing well while doing good.

Remember These Truths Next Time You Deal with Customer Service

“Please hold while I put you in touch with our next available representative.”

If you’ve ever had to call an airline carrier, your insurance company, or cable service provider, then you’ve heard this line before. We all have.

The customer service department of an organization is both a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to speak to someone whenever we have a problem, but there are times when those conversations feel more frustrating than they do helpful. When a customer service representative doesn’t know how to help us, or if they refuse to do what we ask, it’s easy to get angry and shut down. I’ve been on both sides of this aisle recently and trust me, I get it.

Where does this fit on a blog that focuses on nonprofit work and giving back?

Working towards a more just and equitable world is hard. Doing good on a global level is hard. But doing good in our everyday interactions with others should be easy. The way that we treat others is important – regardless of whether we’re licensed social workers, volunteering our time, or troubleshooting an issue with a company representative.

The only thing harder than dealing with a customer service rep is being one. For every complaint you have, that rep has likely gotten similar earfuls from dozens more people. It’s easy to forget that when we’re in the moment with our own issues.

So when you find yourself wanting to pull your hair out because that customer service rep just isn’t getting it, keep in mind that this person:

1. Is human. If they could wave a magic wand to completely erase your problems, they probably would.


2. Didn’t do this to you on purpose. This blog assumes that most people aren’t out to get you. I had to remind myself the other day that the customer service rep at [insert hotel booking site here] didn’t mean for my reservation to be a disaster, even if her company was to blame!


3. Doesn’t have the final say. Depending on the issue, it’s possible that the customer service rep isn’t in a position to fill your request without approval from someone higher up the ladder. If you feel like something major should be done, remember that customer service reps are only the front lines of customer contact (and usually not the decision-makers behind the product or service). If you can keep his in mind, I’m sure the people on the other end of the line will appreciate you for it.


4. Still deserves respect. There really isn’t a scenario where it’s okay to insult someone, call them names, or resort to threats. (You’d be amazed at some of the ridiculous things that e If you find the conversation heading this way, stop yourself. Not only is this counterproductive (who wants to help someone that’s resorted to bullying?), but it’s completely unbecoming. You know who you are and that’s not it.


We’re entitled to be firm, but we must also be kind. The next time you find yourself in a customer service call irritated beyond belief, remember these truths and take a breath. Everyone’s doing what they can and we shouldn’t let frustrating situations get the better of us. After all, we’re better than that.

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