“8 tips for improved turboing”

On February 14, 2009, in Consumer Advocacy, by Rob Levandowski

While egosurfing the other day, I came across an interesting entry at Chris Keane’s blog that links to my Art of Turboing article.

In “8 tips for improved turboing: customer service workarounds,” Chris details a few tips that can help you take turboing to the next level.

The only tip that I’d take issue with is incrementing the phone extension; that will work in a small or medium sized company, but it’s not likely to work with a large corporation—especially the type of large corporation that drives customers to turbo anyway.

When I worked at Xerox in the late 1990s, there was a special phone number distributed to all employees that connected you to a centralized “find help” desk.  If you had a customer that needed help you couldn’t provide, you’d call that number and the folks that answered would help you connect the customer to the right group.  Say you worked in desktop printer support, and you had a customer that also had a problem with the billing for their leased photocopier. Instead of just saying “Sorry, that’s not my department, you’ll have to contact the other folks,” Xerox made it easy to be helpful.  You could say “Well, that’s not my department, but if you can hold a minute, I can get you to someone who can help you.”  

This is a brilliant and simple idea, and I’m amazed at how few companies have anything like it.  I have yet to work for another company that does.

If you dial a random person at, say, a multinational bank, the chances are very good that they not only won’t be able to help you, they won’t have any idea how to connect you to someone that can.  That’s why turboing starts at the top of the food chain: The CEO is ultimately responsible for everything, and the CEO’s office can start the ball rolling downhill until it hits someone in the right position to help.

Oh, and as for the commenter on Chris’s blog who wondered

by posting them online aren’t you just encouraging more people to use them, which in turn forces companies to restrict customers’ ability to turbo?

Look, if you’re in a position where you should turbo, because you have a legitimate problem with a company that they are not properly addressing, then you should turbo.  It’s as simple as that.

If the company decides that they don’t want to listen to customer complaints, then it’s not likely that turboing would ever work with them, anyway.  In my experience, most companies will see turboing as an indication that their customer-service department has problems—and those problems are causing lost customers and lost revenue.  For every person that cares enough to complain loudly, there are dozens that just quietly stop doing business with the company.

Customers that turbo, and do it properly, are doing a company a big favor! Those customers are alerting senior management to potentially serious problems that could hurt the company’s reputation and its bottom line.  They care enough to complain and give the company a chance to make it right.  Smart companies value this kind of complaint.

That’s also why it’s so important to turbo correctly: Be polite, be reasonable, ask for a reasonable resolution, and don’t abuse the technique.


2 Responses to “8 tips for improved turboing”

  1. Chris says:

    Hey Rob, thanks for the link back! I’ve migrated my blog from Drupal to WordPress, with all the attendant pain including URL updates (I’m not savvy enough to map the old URLs to the new ones). My turboing article is now posted at .

    And one clarification regarding your assertion that incrementing phone numbers won’t work – it worked for me when United Airlines lost my luggage one holiday weekend and the CSRs at the main help number we unable to provide any information. Some random phone number incrementing brought me to a helpful employee who gave me the direct dial number to the VP of whatever department handles lost baggage. While I expect that you’re probably correct in most cases, it’s definitely worth a shot.

  2. Chris says:

    Whoops – looks like the URL got lost in the shuffle – it’s cycloneranger.com/2007/02/8-tips-for-improved-turboing-customer-service-workarounds.html

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