Bad customer service is a very frustrating experience. Once upon a time, the business mantra was “the customer is always right.” Today, it sometimes seems like that’s been changed to “do things the cheapest and easiest way possible, and don’t worry about how it affects the customer.”

Galatians gives us a good reminder when we’re faced with bad customer service that makes our temper rise:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. —Galatians 5:22-23, KJV

We’re not obligated to accept poor service just because we’re Christian, but those verses remind us that a positive, humble attitude is more effective than becoming angry. When we exercise self-control and take a more low-key approach to the problem, we’ve got a much greater chance of getting it resolved to our satisfaction.

How, exactly, does this work? Let’s say you’re being charged monthly for a service you cancelled. You filled out the required paperwork and have copies to prove it. You mailed the forms via certified mail and have proof that they’ve been delivered.

Still, for the last three months the money has been debited from your checking account despite several phone conversations and assurances that the problem’s been resolved. You don’t want to close your bank account because it’s set up for several other recurring bill payments that you don’t want to change.

Such a situation would make just about anyone angry. After all, you did what was required, and you’re still out money every month. You’re upset at the broken refund promises resulting from your earlier complaints. As you get on the phone yet again, you’re ready to lash out at whoever answers your call.

Unfortunately, when you go on the attack, the other person instantly gets into defensive mode. Instead of wanting to help you, he or she gears up for an argument. It’s much more effective to exercise self-control and maintain a calm demeanor.

If you show gentleness and meekness, you’ll often win the customer service rep over to your side. Instead of, “You’d better help me or else!” take an approach like, “I’ve been trying to resolve this for a while, and I’d be so grateful if you could help me out.”

Sometimes you’ll be faced with another roadblock, despite exercising self-control and being reasonable. That’s not the time to lose your temper. If the initial person you’re dealing with can’t help you, you need to reach someone who can. This usually means talking to a supervisor.

If you get into a heated verbal battle with the first rep, then demand to speak to his or her boss, you’re more likely to hear a dial tone. If, instead, you’ve maintained self-control and have kept the conversation cordial, you’re more likely to be routed to someone with the authority to assist you.

These same principles apply to dealing with problems in writing and in person. If you’ve just had a terrible experience, it feels so good to get home and pour it all out in an email or Facebook post. Writing is therapeutic, but whatever you do, don’t hit “send!”

After you’ve let out all your emotion at the keyboard, take a step back and regain your self-control. Then erase that initial complaint and rewrite it in a more reasonable, fact-based manner. State exactly what happened, why it’s unacceptable and what type of resolution you’re seeking. Businesses often dismiss complaints that are full of vague, rambling accusations and short on factual content. They give more credibility to clear, concise emails and postings.

When you’re face-to-face at the customer service counter, it’s similar to speaking to someone on the phone. Your attitude will determine whether the representative sympathizes with you and wants to help or whether he or she immediately becomes defensive and looks for reasons to deny you.

Proverbs is packed with good advice for many life situations. Remember these wise words the next time you’re faced with bad customer service:

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28, KJV

Keep your spirit in check, maintain your self-control and enjoy the positive results.

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