Business Briefs


POSTED: Monday, December 01, 2008

How to complain about a bill

What? A charge of how much? Overdraft fees? Late fees? Are you kidding?

If you've got a complaint about a product or service, you'll have more success arguing your case with the company if you mind your manners on the phone. Convergys Corp., a customer-management services company, offers these tips:

» Get organized: Before you call, have your account number, credit card statements, check numbers, receipts, and any other documentation ready. This will make it easier for the customer service representative to retrieve the data and shorten your time on hold.

» Calm down: Understandably, you may be frustrated, embarrassed, or irate about your situation, but taking your emotions out on a service agent will not help resolve your problem—it can often delay a resolution.

» Write it all down: Take notes during the conversation and get the representative's name, the date of the call, confirmation numbers, phone numbers, and what was discussed. This information is important and will save time in any follow-up calls.

» Make time for the call: If the issue is important enough for you to call customer service, make the time to do so. Don't be in a rush; plan to spend a fair amount of time on the phone.


Your workplace could be 'sick'

The sneezing, the coughing, the drowsiness—but only at the office. Could it be that you're allergic to ... work?

It may sound like a stunt to wrangle some time off. But your ailments could be related to “;sick building syndrome,”; an illness caused by mold, inadequate ventilation, or chemicals from walls and carpet of both old and new buildings.

The causes of such symptoms can be difficult to pin down, said Susan Lessack, partner in Pepper Hamilton law firm in Berwyn, Pa.

“;Often there is a tendency to doubt that the person is experiencing something related to the building, and these illnesses are met with suspicion even though they are quite valid,”; Lessack said.

If you notice you're only feeling ill while you're at work, ask your employer to test the building's air quality. If possible, try to work from another location to see if the symptoms begin to fade.

If a link is found between an illness and the building, an employee could seek compensation under workers' compensation laws, Lessack said. That can be difficult to do.

Regardless, it would be in the employer's best interest to resolve the problem, Lessack said. When employees work in a “;sick building,”; they feel a sense of relief and renewed health after leaving work.

“;This can lead to poor morale as well as high turnover,”; she said.


Puzzles can get the word out

Skip the boring news release or internal e-mail. One company is using crossword and word search puzzles to get the word out about its corporate initiatives.

“;This is a really simple, easy-to-implement way to get the messages out that we want everyone to be aware of,”; said Andre Hughes, managing director of corporate citizenship at the consulting firm Accenture Ltd.

The puzzles include questions and a word bank of phrases that reflect the company's missions of diversity and work-life balance, as well as names they should remember.

Hughes said the concept could be used for anything that a company would expect their employees to remember. In Accenture's case, it serves to remind workers why they think the company is so great.

“;If you have a tremendous portfolio of things you're very proud of and that serve your employees well, the next most critical thing is to make sure they're aware of it and engaged in it,”; he said. “;In a world of limitless information, those sound bites could mean the difference in engaging and retaining talent.”;