About a week ago I posted some tips and tricks for evaluating companies. (I’d highly recommend that you read that post first, if you haven’t already.) Now I thought I’d go a step further and share some thoughts on contacting companies: why and how to do it.
Please don’t be intimidated to ask companies about their ingredients, processes, and practices. You are not wasting anyone’s time: this is literally the job of the service team. I truly believe that we as consumers have a right to know much, much more about the products we use and the business practices of the brands we support.
- Companies should know that you’re paying attention. Businesses are, for better or for worse, a massive part of society. We need to remind them of that sometimes.
- At the very best, can create change. If lots of people contact them about an issue, they’ll get the message that this is something important that they need to focus on or respond to. Change does happen with enough public pressure!
- At the very least, you’ll get an answer. And yes, a lack of a response (no email returned) is still an answer. They’re telling you that they don’t care, and that means you can take your business elsewhere.
Calling a company may sound old-fashioned, but it has some unique benefits.
Unlike in an email, you can respond right away and say, “no, that doesn’t really answer my question” if they evade the question.
Plus, many companies have policies in which they do not hang up on customers, so you may be able to ask to speak to someone else, or offer to stay on hold, until you obtain an answer.
If you don’t have time, prefer not to speak on the phone, or would prefer a paper trail, email is a great option.
Be specific: asking vague questions will get vague responses. Use bullet points or numbered lists if it helps.
By computer chat
This is helpful in that you can still have the transcript, but you can respond in real time.
Please, always be polite and never rude or angry, even if you’re talking to a company that you do not respect. Keep in mind that you are (very likely) not talking to anyone who has made any of the decisions that you are upset about.
Customer service can be an exhausting job and the person you are speaking with is likely overworked, underpaid, and doing their very best.
What about positive feedback?
Companies, especially small businesses, love hearing positive feedback. It really can make someone’s day, as those in customer service jobs typically deal with many unhappy people. Be sure to tell a company when you’re happy with them!