Is customer service going downhill? It seems like it -- it's increasingly difficult to find help when you go into stores, either because the staff is just trying to keep up or they're apathetic. Does that mean you have to accept the sub-par service given to you? No, if you approach the situation correctly, you'll be more apt to get what you want without a screaming match.
Write It Down
Your complaint might sound perfectly valid and succinct in your head, but saying it to an apathetic customer service agent can make you flustered. To combat this, write down your specific complain and desired outcome so you're completely clear on what you want. Don't be afraid to bring the written piece with you to the store when you complain so you can refer back to it.
Breathe... Then Breathe Again!
A frustrating customer service situation can make even the most level-headed person angry. However, letting out an angry rant won't endear you to the staff and they'll likely dismiss your complaint. Instead, take a few deep breaths and collect your thoughts if a situation starts to get heated. If that's not possible, consider hanging up or leaving the store and try again at a later time.
Get Help From a Higher Power
Is the customer service either unwilling or unable to help you? Don't be afraid to ask for a supervisor. Customer service agents are required to escalate when asked, and the upper-level employee will have more power to remedy your problems than the "rank and file" employees.
Write a Strongly-Worded Letter
Seek out the company's upper-level managed via email or written letter if all of your attempts to fix your problem fail. Executives know that they need customers and will likely respond in your favor when it gets to that letter. I've heard of people getting ahold of the CEO of companies like Discover Card Financial Services and Sears when store-level management was unwilling to fix their issues.
As for the contact information? Look for it on the company's corporate website, in the annual report or through the company's public relations teams. Customer service reps on a hotline won't give you the information.
Complain to a Third Party
Problem still not solved? File a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB is a third-party liaison designed to solve problems and grades companies on their responses to complaints. Don't want to do that? Use the power of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to air your complaints. The public relations departments of many companies watch online chatter like a hawk and pounce on negative comments to keep it from spreading into a public relationship disaster.
How do you handle bad customer service?