Now, that’s a circular headline: The one question that you should ask, before you ask your question!
It’s because Consumerism Commentary has shared his experiences in customer service:
The prevailing wisdom when dealing with customer service representatives is to just keep repeating “let me speak to your supervisor” until you eventually get what you want. Every time I read this, though, I get defensive and annoyed. I can’t forget that year I spent answering the phones for Bank of America … I learned a couple of very important lessons as a CSR that are in direct conflict with the “let me speak to your supervisor” rule.
His rules are good … and, basically involve trying to make the customer service representative on the other end of the phone line your “friend” which (he says) usually results in not only getting his issue/s resolved but also getting “fees reversed, special deals made, you name it.”
Now, I can’t argue with that!
Well, I could, since I employed well over a hundred staff in call-centers across three countries … but, I won’t 🙂
But, I will say that there is one question that you should ask as early on as you can politely work it into the conversation with ANYBODY that you hope to ‘get something out of’ e.g
– The customer service representative at the store or on the phone where you hope to have a problem resolved
– The person at the bank who you are sitting in front of to negotiate a new loan
– The customer sitting across the desk from you (or on the other side of the telephone line) when you are trying to make a sale
– The sales rep at the dealership where you are trying to negotiate a “super, great deal” on that new fridge, car, house, etc.
– and, so on …
… particularly, when you know (or, as soon as you are told) that you are ‘pushing the envelope’ with your request.
This one question that I am about to share with you will save you hours and hours of going around in circles trying to ‘close’ whatever deal you are working on (in your favor, of course!), before you have to finally resort to asking to “speak to your supervisor” … and, have to start all over again!
What’s the question?
Simple: “Do you have the authority to [insert: request of choice]?”
A word of warning: you don’t ever want to question somebody’s status, so be subtle and choose the right moment and way to ask this?
For example, in a sales situation, a really neat way to ask this same question without the running the risk of being thrown out of Mr-Lower-Middle-Manager-Who’s-Job-It-Is-To-Keep-People-Like-You-Away-From-The-Real-Decision-Maker’s office, is to politely and innocently enquire:
“Who do you usually like to talk to before you make decisions like this one?”
That’s who you want to speak to right off the bat … not Mr Peabody 😉
Thats very good advice Adrian.
When dealing with companies, I think its best to do research ,so you know who the real decision makers are in the first place. When making a sales call, never cold call. Always be informed, and use the girl answering the phone to obtain answers you couldn’t find out yourself before calling.
People love to talk, and when asked nicely, you can obtain a wealth of info. 😉