How to Save Thousands By Saying The Right Things to Customer Service Reps

I am probably the worst person to ever take advice from when it comes to getting discounts from customer service reps, because true story, I’m timid af and the only strategy that has ever worked for me is stumbling into a discount by accident. So to cover for me, today’s guest post is a syndicated post from my friend Tori of Victori Media. She blogs about careers and money for 20-somethings who want to live life victoriously, and she’s amazeballs. Give her a warm welcome, say hi on Twitter, and enjoy!

You guys, I love talking with customer service reps.

Most people find that super weird. Why would you like to be put on hold? Why would you like battling with reps only to be told that “there’s nothing we can do?”

Why do I love it? Because I understand how to do it. Nine times out of ten, I succeed in getting what I want (and sometimes, more than what I want.) I’ve literally saved thousands of dollars, and sometimes earned money/perks, by simply taking a few minutes to call or tweet customer service.

I get it: you don’t want to be that person who complains about every little thing, and I totally understand. But you’re paying for an awesome customer experience (if it’s a major purchase, then even more reason for them to make it right!) That is your hard-earned money, and if you weren’t satisfied in any way, you should have no problem asking the company to fix it.

I just took a trip to Costa Rica with a friend (learn about our life-changing trip here!) and literally earned over $350 in miles, travel credit, and perks by contacting the airline’s customer service when something went wrong (first, a major delay and second, our seat-back screens didn’t work on our international flight.) At a time when companies are putting more stock in loyal customers — and airlines especially are scrambling to earn your business — demanding what you paid for just makes sense.

When I tell my friends about my mini-obsession, they say they’d love to do it too, but have no idea how. I’ve prepared an exact script for you, whether you’re on the phone or on social media/email, that has been proven to work.

1. Be polite and jovial…the entire time

If you’re on the phone, the customer service rep will usually state their name and ask how can they help you. They will be more willing to go out of their way to help if you treat them like a real human (shocking, I know.)

Here’s what you say: “Hello NAME, how are you? I’m doing fine, thank you for asking. I’m having an issue and I would love for you to help me.”

By asking them to help, you’re immediately giving them an opportunity for a win. Their brain should go, “Help? Yes! I can do that! That’s what I’m here for!”

2. State what happened

No matter how angry or fed up you are, make sure to still be kind and calm. You want to mention what you expected to happen (being billed a certain amount, a smooth flight, etc.), and why that didn’t happen. Say why you’re frustrated by it, but do not get upset. Mention that you’re disappointed or dissatisfied with the service you received.

3. Show your loyalty

Companies are more able and excited to help you if you can demonstrate you’re a repeat customer. They want you to continue doing business with them, and for you to have a great experience.

Here’s what you say: “As a [mileage plan member, a 5-year Verizon customer, etc.], I’d really love to continue being a loyal, valued customer.”

Not a loyal customer? Turn it on them. “I’d really love for you to earn my loyalty and business today.”

4. Seal it with the zinger

You now want to offer them the opportunity to make the situation right. Many people say you should ask for exactly what you want (which can work.) I personally don’t like this, because sometimes you’ll get more than what you would have requested.

Here’s what you say: “I want to have a great customer experience today with COMPANY NAME. What can you do for me?”

5. Didn’t work? Don’t give up

If you’re ready to throw in the towel at, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do,” think again. Companies know you’re already uncomfortable — most people will say thank you and hang up. You’re not most people. Repeat numbers 2 and 3, expressing again your loyalty, and ask if there is ANYTHING they can do for you. Never beg, but now you want to be a bit more forceful. Remind them that you want to have a great customer experience today, and that they have the opportunity to make it happen.

I was once on the phone with a company for a half hour to get a $140 charge overturned. The customer service rep gave me about 15 chances to walk away by saying there was nothing he could do, but I didn’t stop. I was patient, calm, and kind (even when he put me on hold for 10 minutes.) In my persistence, I walked away with $140 back in my pocket.

6. Thank them

Sometimes they don’t budge. It happens. Keep your cool: thank them for their time, and sign off. If you’re still not satisfied (and hell, I never am), use either an alternative method of contacting them, or wait a day and call back (I’ve often gotten to speak with someone else who was way more helpful.)

I’d love to know how these techniques work for you. Even if there isn’t something frustrating that happened (product broke, flight delayed), this script works for lowering your more consistent bills, or getting free perks. Spend 10 minutes: call your cable provider, insurance company, frequent airline, and see what happens!