Jun 19 2007

Politeness Pays Dividends

Published by at 9:27 pm under General,Technology

This is an old article and the information contained within it may be out of date, not reflect my current views and/or contain broken links. If you feel this article is still valid and requires updating, you can use the contact form to let me know. However, I make no guarantee that it will get updated.

At some point, whilst I was at university, I got given a piece of advice: “When talking to customer services, never loose your temper. And the worst thing you can do is swear.” This advice has stuck with me and whenever I have a complaint about service of goods I always try to make sure that I remain calm and polite at all times.

This approach has been so effective that in the past I have had a free meal + entry into an ice bar in Iceland (worth over £150), my motorbike return to my doorstep in Guernsey + £500, free flight transfers without the re-booking free. I have also seen people with similar complaints to mine get nothing in return, simply because they became aggressive and abusive towards the customer services staff.

Today I got an insight into the other side of the customer support line. Back in February I purchased a copy of Parallels for Mac (version 2 I presume) which came with free upgrades for a year. Fast forward to May and I start getting emails about the imminent release of Parallels 3 with an offer to upgrade at a discount price, and I very nearly paid the upgrade price… until I remembered my free upgrade offer. My original confirmation email said that I would receive an email with a license key for the new version of Parallels, so I wanted… and waited… and waited some more.

I tried emailing Parallels about a week or two ago but I haven’t yet received a response yet, so today I phoned them. The short story is that I had to email my confirmation to them and within 10 minutes a received a full license key for Parallels 3. They long story however is that when I got through to customer services I got to speak to a cheerful American guy. I’m not sure exactly what I said but before handing me over to the next person in the customer service chain he asked me where I was calling from. Not wanting to confuse him with tales of islands off the coast of France, so I just said the UK. His response was something along the lines of:

I just want to say how great it is to help you English guys. You’re always so polite and patient. Some of the American that call us are nothing but abusive but you British are just so polite.

It took me aback a little, but it made me think how crappy it must be to take calls all day long from people that just relax a little and be courteous to those they’re talking to. So next time your on the phone to customer services just remember two things:

  1. You’re more likely to get what you want if you’re polite.
  2. Think how you’d like to answer the phone to abusive people all day.

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