It seems like fighting with the cable company is a universal experience that all Americans share. Cable companies have a reputation for delivering terrible customer service, and none worse than Comcast. Having had many disappointing interactions over the years, I’ve slowly started to learn how to get results when dealing with the dreaded cable company.
Looking back at all the headaches, there is a silver lining. Many of these lessons apply to dealing with student loan lenders.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the same strategies work. With both student loan servicers and cable company representatives, there is a lot in common. Both sets of employees are underpaid, under trained, and deal with angry people all day.
Lesson #1: Talk to someone with the authority to help you.
Before making the call, you already know what you need. Your cable bill might be wrong or you are trying to get on the right repayment plan. Unfortunately, convincing the person on the other end of the phone that your situation needs fixed sometimes takes some effort. Nothing is more frustrating than finally convincing that person only to learn that they are not allowed to help and that you have to talk to someone else. Starting the explanation over is a waste of everyone’s time, but it happens often.
Next time you are calling about a student loan issue, identify what you need the lender to do before you call. If you need a credit added to your statement, before sharing your reasoning with the customer service rep, ask if they have the authority to handle your bill credit. If they are not allowed to do it, ask to speak to someone who can. Tell them you don’t want to waste there time or yours. It will get the job done much quicker.
Lesson #2: Service quality may vary.
All customer service representatives are not created equal. Some are angry, bitter, and not very knowledgable while others truly want to help and understand the issues at play.
As a customer, you get very little say in the random person your call is directed to. Fortunately, you don’t always have to talk to the same person. If you get lousy advice, have a bad vibe, or think you are being mistreated; call back later. It is luck of the draw, so the more people you talk to, the better your odds of finding someone helpful.
Lesson #3: Be the bright spot in their day.
Anyone who has ever worked a job they hated knows that the average day can be pretty dreary. Make an effort to be positive, kind and understanding. The big corporation you are dealing with certainly doesn’t deserve such nice treatment, but the human being on the other end of the phone probably does.
If you are upset, make it clear what is upsetting you. Point out that the policy or error is frustrating, but that your anger has nothing to do with the person you are talking to.
These efforts to be kind will get you much further than just yelling. Remember: the cable company and your loan servicer may very well have a monopoly on your business. There really isn’t a threat you can make that they will respond to. Instead, be nice so that they will want to help you.
Lesson #4: Treasure your resources.
Having addressed many student loan questions with my servicer, I’ve identified someone who I think to be on of the most knowledgable and helpful people there. At the conclusion of one phone call, I thanked them for all of the help and requested an extension for direct contact. I even asked what time of the day was best to call.
Now when I have a student loan issue, I talk to the same guy. If I have to wait, it is worth it.
Not all customer service representatives are able to be reached at a particular extension, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Most of the advice here really boils down to the golden rule. If you make an effort to treat your “enemy” how you would want to be treated, you will get the best results.
At times it can seem impossible, but whether you are dealing with the cable company or your student loan servicer it is the quickest and surest route to finding the resolution you need.