After pressing what feels like the telephone equivalent of the Konami Code, then waiting on hold forever, the last thing you want is an unhelpful phone agent. To help ensure you get what you need, use the norm of reciprocity.
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Psychology Today writes that the norm of reciprocity is a “powerful factor” when dealing with customer service agents. Here’s how it works: Before you get to your toughest request (assuming you have more than one), inform the agent that you think they’re doing a good job and that you would like to relay as much to his or her supervisor. Then be sure to get both the agent’s name and supervisor’s contact information before proceeding.
According to the Psychology Today folks, this trick will provide the agent with more of an incentive to help you out—because they’ll feel indebted to you, but also presumably because you have their name and supervisor’s information on hand in case they’re not helpful. Also remember to document your conversations and become a better customer yourself to improve your odds of getting good support.
Have other suggestions for effectively handling phone reps? Have you tried this idea before? Tell us about it in the comments.