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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

Addressing Customer Service at Online Dating Sites

Quick Access:
Talking to Customer Service Reps

How do I talk to Customer Service Reps at Online Dating Sites?


 Word on the street, in industry blogs and in some courtrooms is that online dating customers are getting fed up and downright angry at the customer service at some online dating sites. It’s ironic that some companies in the business of helping others find healthy relationships seem to be unable to establish trusting relationships with their own customers!

What I hear from actual online daters is that the customer reps at some companies promote conflict, rather than try to diffuse it. The dictionary defines conflict as “a state of disagreement and disharmony; clash.” Most verbal conflicts start because one (or all) of the participants listens and responds emotionally, rather than intuitively and intellectually. Responding emotionally is like adding fuel to a fire; it only serves to inflame an already volatile situation.

Here are five listening techniques you can use to ensure an intuitive and intellectual response to verbal conflicts with customer service representatives.

1. Listen to the representative’s whole message before forming an opinion or formulating a response. Don’t filter the message, and don’t form opinions about and responses to only those elements with which you agree or disagree.

2. Listen objectively to the intent of the representative’s message. Don’t use preconceived opinions or biases to jump to assumptions about the speaker’s intent.

3. Don’t react emotionally to the representative’s nonverbal communication. Remain calm, cool and collected.

4. Listen to the representative non-judgmentally and with some empathy. Respect the representative’s point of view, even if you disagree with it. After all, representatives typically are just “following orders.” Keep the channels of communication open. Encourage the representative to come up with an acceptable solution to the problem or conflict, as oppose to allowing them to state there’s nothing they can do or that can be done. If appropriate solutions are not being presented, simply ask to speak with their supervisor.

5. Present your position clearly and concisely. Make sure you communicate your understanding of the problem and the reasons behind your position. The representative may not agree or like your position, however he or she will know it was reached fairly and is based on an objective understanding of the issues presented.

Applying these five techniques can assist significantly in defusing verbal conflicts. In addition, you should always:

» Treat others courteously

» Listen actively

» Avoid reacting defensively to difficult representatives

» Be confident

» Speak with authority

» Be courteous

» Speak clearly

» Take detailed notes

» Ask open-ended questions

If you feel sincerely wronged by an online dating site and are not getting resolution through a customer service representative, remember that you have options for reporting the problem – including industry blogs, the Better Business Bureau, writing to Online Dating Magazine and consumer watchdog websites. I’ve even heard about customers contacting advertisers on an online dating site to voice their disappointment, akin to picketing. Online dating sites exist for you; you’re the boss. You deserve to be treated as such. Just keep your cool, keep good notes and keep your standing as the customer.

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