Diplomatic Persistence

I have written several times about the dearth in customer service. For the most part, we must be the navigators of our own customer service. Without our diplomatic persistence, we may fail to be served. But, we do need help.

I have been involved the past few days with an entity trying to resolve an arbitrary decision on the part of an internal department which places a burden on me to recoup money owed to my family. I will spare the details, but to prevent them from doing it again on another set of transactions, we had to enlist the help of a customer service person and her manager as advocates.

The role I am being asked to play here is not new and will happen again with another entity. It may even happen with this one, but I sure hope not. Variations of both words in the title are key – diplomacy and persistence. Being a jerk will solve little and will make it harder to get advocacy. The customer service person I was speaking with was just the messenger. Yet, diplomacy also means tactfully sharing your frustration. You want them to agree with you that you have been wronged and she did.

The persistence is vital as well. I often say in follow-up after a reasonable time, “I apologize for being a pest.” Also, the first answer may be “no” as it was in this case because of internal processes, so asking for further advocacy can help, especially when you are in the right. I understood why they did what they did in general for risk management, but our circumstances were unusual and did not fit their norm. So, the internal department’s action unwound something very easy made it more time-consuming and bureaucratic.

On the positive side, after much pleading and with the manager’s advocacy, we got a yes answer with a caveat. That is all I could ask for. I will still have to remedy with another vendor their first decision, but I hopefully prevented them from repeating the process. I am so very thankful to the two people who advocated for us. They are gems.

Customer service has to be customer centric. This situation was resolving a problem this organization caused by internal processes. The group that caused it was not being customer centric, but more risk averse. My wife pointed out that what about people who do not have an understanding of financial matters and accepted decisions that were not appropriate. Or, in this case, may not know to follow-up with the other vendor. They may end up being shortchanged because of an arbitrary decision by an internal group.

Diplomatic persistence is key, but so is knowing where you may have been wronged. But, without the former two words, your hope of getting resolution is lessened. My fingers are crossed that this remedy will remain holding.

32 thoughts on “Diplomatic Persistence

  1. You need to be a tick with arguments to be taken serious to be heard. Sometimes it is like listening to a record with standard messages. The record itself doesn’t even listen!

  2. Note to Readers: While I have used this term to define navigating customer service, diplomatic persistence can also be used in follow-up with job interviews and sales opportunities. Being gracious and diplomatic pays huge dividends when persistence is needed. Avoiding being a nuisance is key.

    • Dear Keith,

      I could not agree more with your concept of diplomatic persistence. I prefer to take the high road when resolving a conflict. This should always be the first tactic used and in most cases, this will end up with favorable results for all parties.

      There are instances where the consumer must go beyond this tactic, but even then, arguing with front line workers is not effective as when they are part of dysfunctional management/ company as in my recent dealing with a car dealership that made a deliberate attempt to defraud me. Then take steps like contacting the manufacturer; writing reviews and reporting the incident to one’s state government entity that oversees business practices.

      Ciao, Gronda

      • Gronda, many thanks. I agree there are times when you may need to be more forceful. Yet, similar to being politically incorrect, you need not be a jerk to be candid. The fraudulent activity, when I receive a fishing call to steal my identity (Microsoft, IRS, Grandparent scams, eg), I usually say “you do recognize you are committing fraud.” They usually hang up before I do.


  3. All good advice. I hope your final outcome is a positive one. I really think that some companies put up barriers, or use confusing language hoping that the customer will give up and go away. And, sadly, many do. I can’t tell you how many times I used the introductory words “I’m sorry to be a pest, but…” in my follow-up emails when I was working. 🙂

  4. Excellent perspective. Unfortunately most of my dealings with customer service these days are by phone, and most are very time-consuming and unsatisfactory. There are occasional exceptions, and those are like a breathe of fresh air … I always end up thanking them profusely and really wanting to send them flowers!

      • Agreed, and that is sad. When I was 13, my father, a hotel manager, put me to work in his hotel. The first advice he gave me was “the customer is ALWAYS right, even when the customer is wrong”. That stuck with me throughout my entire career. The second advice, by the way, was “if I catch you smoking on the job, you’re fired!” 😀

      • Jill, two good lessons. I like the way Southwest Airlines says it – the customer is not always right, but they are the customer. My dad taught me not to smoke by smoking in the car. I sat behind him on trips. Keith

  5. I love diplomatic persistence. Sadly… I tend to start with a syrupy sweetness and if that doesn’t work I transition abruptly into the Hulk (if he had boobs and wore glasses). Effective but exhausting. Envy your commitment to this approach!

    • Kim, I am having a hard time picturing the Hulk with boobs and glasses. That is too funny.Maybe you should do Dr. Steve Bannon the sweet approach and Hulk. Best wishes, Keith

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