I need a hero

Today we got a notice that our internet service would be raised to $71 a month (just for internet). Two years ago it cost $19.99 a month.  How can the cost more than triple when the service keeps getting slower? My first instinct was to call them up and curse them out but then I remembered the best piece of advice for dealing with customer service.

Barbara Hosler, one of the instructors for The Living Course, once mentioned that when she calls up customer service she asks, “Can you be my hero today?” The questions totally catches them off guard, and amid all the yelling and cursing they hear all day, really stands out. It puts the operator in a position to be on your side rather than become defensive.

I tried this technique today even though I had a bunch of four letter words on the tip of my tongue. I could not believe how well it worked. Within minutes, the woman on the other line was telling me how terrible it was that I had to pay so much and it’s really unfair that we haven’t gotten a promotion when we’ve been such loyal customers; she basically made my argument for me.

She lowered the price to $44.99, sent us a new router and modem for free, and even directed me to a great website for checking the speed of my internet. We chatted on the phone for five minutes after we were done talking business. We shared budgeting tips and I suggested a few places for her to check out when she visits New York.

All in all, it was a really pleasant experience. I got more than I expected without raising my blood pressure or losing my voice. All it took was a new approach. Thank you Barb!

16 comments

  1. Alas it doesn’t always work but its a great technique!! I’m super envious about both NY internet rates & speeds! Its $100/month in Jakarta and about $40 in Mumbai but for super slow speeds and intermittent service. Sigh… I think I still need a hero for internet at least! 🙂

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    1. $100 a month??? I would find a cafe with free internet and never leave it. 😛 But it’s a price worth paying to be able to share your awesome tales of Asia 🙂 Thanks for putting my expenses into perspective.

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  2. This is wonderful. I worked customer service for a time, specifically tech support and you would not believe some of the things people would say on the phone besides four letter words. It is refreshing to hear that you looked at the situation in a different light and got a more satisfying experience. I know ~$44 is still more than the 20 you were paying but at least it is something.

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    1. I can’t imagine the things you must have heard. Everyone seems to forget they are talking to a human being and not the company. Thanks for leaving a comment!

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  3. Well done, Tracy. I’ve always tended toward this approach anyway, though occasionally I get provoked, for whatever reason, and become the angry customer blaming the poor customer service rep for all my troubles. Inevitably, I feel bad afterward, even if I get what I wanted, because it’s just not in my nature. Your post is a good reminder to treat these folks nicely, remembering that they are, for the most part, just like us, making a living and trying to do their job.

    As for Internet service, I’m lucky. I end up paying nothing for my 30 Mb service because, as a telecommuter, my company reimburses me for the cost 🙂

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  4. This is such a great story!! I forgot that Barb told us about this- thank you for reminding me! I’ve been hearing so many stories lately that remind me that being nice to others means you’re being nice to yourself- we’re all connected.

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