How to get positive results from calls to support hotlines/callcentres

I have a method I use when calling support hotlines which rarely fails to get me a positive outcome from the call – I call it the Squeaky Wheel method (remember the squeaky wheel is the one which gets the attention). At all times using this method I ensure that I remain completely polite but firm.

What I do when I call the hotline number is:

  1. I immediately ask the person who answers for their name and the call reference number (most reputable call centres track calls using a reference number – asking this establishes your seriousness and shows that you know your way around hotlines!)
  2. Then keep asking questions until you get what it is you want to know – do not hang up until you found out what you called to find out
  3. If the person in the call centre can’t answer your question, appears to be fobbing you off, or gives an unsatisfactory answer – ask to speak to their supervisor immediately
  4. If the supervisor is busy or on another call, offer to wait until (s)he is free. Do not hang up and under no circumstances accept an offer to call you back – they won’t!
  5. If you are on hold waiting for the supervisor, they will get to you as soon as they can generally because most call centres monitor call times and while you are waiting on hold you are driving up their average call times – this drives them crazy so they will try to deal with you quickly
  6. If the supervisor is unable to answer your question, ask to speak to their supervisor, etc. You will eventually by not hanging up and insisting on speaking to superiors, get to someone who can answer your question, or annoy them enough that they will tell you what it is you want to know.

At all times while using the squeaky wheel method, keep a note of times and dates of calls, the names of the people you dealt with (and what they said) and the call reference number.

This method will work in almost all situations to get you the information you require from a call centre/support hotline. The only time it failed for me was with Bank of Ireland Credit Card Services. I was complaining to them about a cock-up on their part with my credit card details. I moved up the chain with my complaint until I got to David Glennon (Mr. Glennon’s title was Support Manager, Customer Service, Credit Operations) – Mr Glennon was less than helpful, refusing to answer my questions and cutting off communications when I asked to speak with his supervisor. Well I guess as a manager in the Customer Services division of a multi-million euro organisation he obviously knows more about customer service than I do – treat them like dirt and ignore them and they will go away!

I have applied for a credit card with another bank. And I’m moving house shortly but I’m not applying to Bank of Ireland for my mortgage.

6 thoughts on “How to get positive results from calls to support hotlines/callcentres”

  1. I use this method, more or less, too – probably learned from working with you! My only addendum would be that it is possible to use the ‘squeaky wheel’ method *and* remain courteous and professional throughout. I know this is what you do yourself Tom, I just mention it because I have seen others in action who seem to think that losing the rag and abusive language also helps!

  2. I worked in a call centre for two years and your the type of guy we wouldn’t help on purpose. Why the hell would anyone in one one of the most stressful jobs out there (2 year burn outs) want to deal with someone demanding names, references and answers in an uptight, arrogant manner. Talk about an Anglo-Saxon work ethic and attitude. I agree that as a customer your alloed to complaint, but not go OTT on a 18 year old kid.

    Your not that important in the scheme of things and to the mim wage school leavers and grad students, your an asshole. Next time, I hope you get a out sourced worker in india … be nice.. it gets you futher.

  3. I agree with you Tom.
    It annoys the hell out of me that they want customers to give out every personal detail on demand yet try to hide themselves. I will insist on a name and if they are polite and efficient, I am too. I will also insist on matters being escalated though if it requires such, and when all else fails a quick search of G-Groups turns up interesting information …. phoning the boss of Orange UK got my problems sorted once – they were livid I had the number 🙂

  4. Frank – thanks for that – I have updated the post to reflect the fact that at all times using the Squeaky Wheel method I remain absolutely polite but firm – I won’t back down.

    Michael – I think the tone of my post was affected by a bad experience I was re-living while writing it! As I mentioned, I was always polite to call centre staff but if they are unable or unwilling to help, I ask to speak to their supervisor, and so on up.

    Podz – You found the phone number of Orange UK’s MD on G-Groups and rang it? Respect. I am a mere amatuer in light of this!

  5. By the way Michael, I worked in call centres in Britain (for BT) and Ireland (for horizon) and had to deal with many difficult calls but if someone wasn’t getting what they wanted I was always happy to hand them off to a supervisor.

    Oh, and I always started my calls by giving my name and the call reference number

  6. Yeah, your right about reliving the moment. I think i was reliving my stressful days as a call centre supervisor when I posted. Still, call centre employees get some VERY irate calls and some turn very nasty. Some callers are demanding your Full name etc and saying they will have your job etc, diapring remarks about your accent, sex etc. I will sue! etc Natioanl call centres are OK but International callc entres are even worse… when irate callers from England found out they were actually ringing Ireland for customer support….. they really freaked out…..

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