Clark Howard’s Simple Steps To Get Better Customer Service

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With the convenience of online shopping, buying what we want or need is relatively easy. It’s when something goes wrong with the product or service – and we need to contact customer service – that the difficulties arise.

If you’re having problems with a company due to an unsatisfactory service or product, money expert Clark Howard wants you to know that to get results you often have to employ an array of tactics.

“You’ve got to be flexible in how you use the tools available to you,” he says. “There is no silver bullet.”

Warning: Never Do This if You Want Good Customer Service

With that being said, here are some things that Clark says you don’t want to do:

  • Lose Your Cool: “Rage does not work,” he says. “You put everybody in a defensive position and everybody dealing with you — very quickly, even if your problem is a legitimate one that the company has caused — they’ll decide you’re the problem, not the problem you’re having.”
  • Contact the CEO: You will often be wasting your breath by reaching out directly to the CEO. Instead, Clark wants you to find out “at the operational level, who are these unknown vice presidents or assistant vice presidents, whatever their title is in the organization, that are over whatever it is you’re having a problem with.”
  • Say You’ll Never Do Business There Again: “If you say that, what incentive do they have to do anything for you if you say, ‘I’m done with you. I’m never buying from you. I’m never flying with you again, whatever it is?’”

On the other hand, what you do want to do is this:

“You want to be brief,” Clark says. “You want to be clear and concise with what the problem is and what you’re seeking, along with being reasonable and you do this every possible way when you’ve been blown off by the company.”

So now that you know what to do — and what not to do — in your interactions, let’s dive in and explore the best ways to get your issue resolved.

Clark Howard’s 7 Simple Steps To Get Better Customer Service

Do you hate spending your entire lunch break on hold? We do too. In this article, we’ll explore some tried-and-true steps for getting noticed by customer service. And getting results.  

1. Contact the Company’s Customer Service Team

This may seem simple, but try the company’s customer service team first. Not all organizations practice customer “no-service” as Clark calls it. Some do it the right way and resolve issues quickly and efficiently.

If this isn’t the case for you, keep reading to find other ways to get your issue resolved.

2. Post on Social Media

Instead of being on hold for minutes or even hours before you reach a customer service representative via the phone, many people find success reaching out to companies on their social media channels.


In fact, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been a valuable arrow in our quiver of ways to reach companies, especially airlines. Clark says this is because many companies monitor their social media feeds closely for customer dissatisfaction.

However, some companies have gotten overwhelmed by the volume of complaints on social media and are no longer responding as they used to. 

So social media can be a good place to start, but if you don’t get results there, fear not. Keep moving down this list for more options.

3. File a Complaint With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Anytime it’s a bank or credit card company, always file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

File a complaint at The agency says most companies respond within 15 days.

“Their help rate is probably much higher because it’s got the teeth of the federal government behind you, which is why the banks and credit card companies hate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau so much,” Clark says. “Because they’re making banks behave that otherwise don’t care and don’t do the right thing.”

4. File a Complaint With the BBB

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another way to grab a company’s attention.

One of the BBB’s most popular features is its proprietary rating and accreditation system, which can affect the success of a company in one way or the other. Because of this, many firms will work with the BBB to resolve customer complaints and issues.

Read our guide on how you can use the BBB to vet companies.

5. Try Elliott Advocacy

Elliott Advocacy is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that provides several resources for people to resolve their issues with companies and corporations.


One of our favorite features of Elliott Advocacy is that it publishes the names of customer service managers, which can be helpful when you want to establish a trail of communication.

Clark says reaching out to an executive can often yield faster results than trying to contact and hear back from the head of the company.

Want help with that? Start with’s massive database of executive contact information.

6. Call the Consumer Action Center

Started by Clark in 1993, the Consumer Action Center is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that helps people with their problems for free in real time.

If you need advice with money or consumer issues, call the Consumer Action Center at 636-49C-LARK (636-492-5275).

7. Use a Paid Service

If you’ve got the coin, you might even consider investing in a paid service like Karens for Hire. The service specializes in several areas, including real estate, cars and customer service.

Fees vary based on the situation, but typically average $50 to $75, according to the Karens for Hire website.

Final Thoughts

If you’re having issues with something you bought from a company and can’t get your issue resolved easily, Clark wants you to remember to always be kind, even when you’re frustrated.

“There are multiple things you try. You don’t focus on one particular thing, but the overriding thing,” Clark says, “is polite persistence.”

“Never, never, never not ever, no matter how fed up you are, ever unload on somebody you’re talking to on a phone call at customer no-service, someone you’re messaging at a company, or by posting on social media.”

Read more of Clark’s “Never, Not Ever” Rules.