Sometimes, things go wrong. We don’t get what we wanted. There’s a cock up. Sometimes it’s someone’s fault. Sometimes it really isn’t.
So, what can you do about it?
Let me tell you what not to do about it.
Don’t be a dick.
Don’t shout or scream or swear at the person who happens to answer the phone to you. Just don’t. They are a human being. They did not cause your problem. Even if they did, they didn’t do it to spite you.
(If they did, in fact, do it to spite you, you need to take a long hard look at yourself…)
If you have a complaint to make – and we’ve all had to do it at some point – take a deep breath and decide you are going to be pleasant about it. Trust me, you’ll get much further much faster if you do.
My first job, on leaving school, was in the claims department of a major insurer. At various points I’ve worked in insurance, I’ve worked as a teacher, and I’ve worked as a GP receptionist. I’ve been sworn at, been threatened, and had someone so angry they were in tears and blaming me. I was not the problem.
Some things are simply not covered by your insurance policy, and no amount of shouting and swearing will change that.
Sometimes kids get nits, shouting at the teacher in front of the whole class won’t make them go away.
Yes, doctor’s receptionists have to ask what’s wrong with you – I’m really, truly, sorry if you have something embarrassing, but the question still has to be asked.
I’m not saying you should never make a complaint or argue your case – but stay dignified. Play nice. Be polite. If you do find yourself raising your voice, calm yourself down and apologise – ‘I’m sorry, I know it’s not your fault, I’m just really frustrated with XYZ’.
And decide what you actually want them to do about it. Don’t just rant.
Do you want them to cancel the policy, or replace the broken bit, or give you compensation?
If you tell them what you want, it makes life much much easier. If nothing else, they will know what they need to do to make you go away. Win win.
You also have to have a realistic idea of what’s actually possible. That insurance clerk on the phone can’t make it so that the accident never happened. That teacher can’t eradicate nits. That receptionist can’t sprinkle fairy dust on you and make you better.
If the person at the other end of the line simply can’t do anything about it, ask to speak to the duty manager, if there is one. The person you are talking to will be more than happy to pass you on up the line…
The duty manager might be able to help. They might be able to authorise a refund that the call handler couldn’t. They might be able to give you more of an idea as to why the problem happened in the first place. Or – they might still not be able to help.
And you still shouldn’t be a dick.
Some people go through huge difficulties without loss of dignity. Some people scream and shout at the least little inconvenience.
From experience, I would say that the capacity to be a dick is in inverse proportion to the size of the problem. Don’t be that person.
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I always reply to Comments from nice people.