Use this whenever you call customer service

Ramit Sethi

A while back, I wrote about how I kept records of every call with customer-service reps from Sprint. This is because they repeatedly “forgot” and lied about agreements we made.

One of my friends (who wants to remain anonymous) sent over this spreadsheet he uses to do the same thing:

I just started doing the same – keeping a spreadsheet of conversations with customer service reps in general with all that key info. Airlines, financial, and other counterparties we do business with on a recurring basis. Date, time, name of person(s), reason for call, other comments. Like my own little reverse CRM system.

It’s simple and it works. Courtesy of my friend: Track your customer service calls (Excel file)

Do you know your actual earning potential?

Get started with the Earning Potential quiz. Get a custom report based on your unique strengths, and discover how to start making extra money — in as little as an hour.

Start The Quiz

Takes 3 min


  1. Bryan

    Ooh, this is a great idea! I especially love that you can sort the columns however you’d like. Thanks for the idea, Ramit!

  2. Nick

    Even simpler, just create a private blog and record it there. If you record it as you go, it even gets timestamped.

  3. Andy Y. Lin

    You should start using Microsoft OneNote instead of Word/Excel files to keep all your information.

  4. Wandering Indian Monk

    And, how would this help? Are these folks (Customer Service Reps) going to be believe what we have catalogued? Will they accept it as proof?

  5. Ramit Sethi

    Yes, it can. Read the previous link about my fiasco with Sprint.

  6. Derek Ashauer

    I highly recommened using Backpack. It’s free. I use it for organizing, making lists for anything and everything under the sun I need to keep myself organized.

    (No, I am not a spam bot or a salesperson – it really does make life easier)

  7. Nick

    Forget OneNote – keep using Excel. Excel is, at least, available on non-Microsoft platforms.

  8. Kevin

    I’ve been doing something similar for quite a while. I create a separate sheet (Mine are in Word) for each vendor I want to track then Link them to the Vendor’s record in my PIM. I this system for Entourage on a Mac at home and Outlook at work & it has DEFINATELY given me an upper hand with all service vendors. Nothing kicks the service to the next level like having an accurate history of the problem.

  9. Steve Yen

    Couldn’t resist — here’s a web based version of the customer service tracker spreadsheet. disclosure: I wrote the web spreadsheet SW

  10. Tom

    If you like the idea of keeping track of stuff in Excel, you really really might want to take a look at my Excel spreadsheet solution for reference systems. Really. its different. its free, it works.

    I have described it here:

    You can download a copy of the file here:

    and download both of these files:
    Personal Information..> 05-Feb-2006 20:04 612k “The File”
    Tom’s screenshots.xls 05-Feb-2006 20:05 404k “Examples”

  11. Andy Y. Lin

    If you’re using Windows, OneNote will serve your needs much better. Of course, if it’s not available to you you should go with whatever you have.

  12. RJ

    This is a good simple way of keeping tabs on the calls that you make.

    I use my email (i am a gmail fan) to keep record of my conversations/discussions with a particular party or person.

    Use the efficient label and filter function gmail provides and just send yourself the email. This way it stays on Gmail and use it in conjunction with your desktop email client (I use Thunderbird) and you can even send yourself a reminder email to call or followup a previous call. This way you are or should be on top of things.

    Good idea anyhow.

    R J

  13. Maria Palma

    This is a great idea – I’ll definitely try to implement it and suggest it to my readers.

    I’ve been using my daykeeper to keep track of calls, but sometimes I have to go back a few months and then I forget what month I need to go to!

    ~Maria Palma

  14. Dale

    One thing to remember when you are dealing with customer service reps (CSR). Often companies will have policies not to use their actual names. I can remember one bank having half their CSR’s using Sally if they were west of the Mississippi and Betty if they were east. Always ask for an employee number or forward to a supervisor and ask for his. You don’t have to be nasty about it but it does show you’re serious and you are seeking resolution

  15. Mieke

    You know, it truly doesn’t matter what tool you use. A plain text file will do just fine as well. The important part is to capture the data – date, time, name of person spoken with, time on hold, number of refusals to connect to supervisor, name and phone# of supervisor, etc. And yes, I keep track too. 🙂

  16. RJ

    All the comments above shows how much CSRs are trusted!!!!

  17. Patrick Allmond

    I am late coming to the party but of the options I did not see mentioned was Outlook. There is a journal function that perfectly designed for this – to log your activity (calls, emails, tasks) etc with a contact. Even has a built in phone call timer.

    This is what it is there for .

  18. Bink

    Sprint is the devil. Their customer service is horrible. On a better note, thanks for the spreadsheet! 🙂

  19. James Staut

    Dealing with customer service agents over the phone can be a real headache. I’ve had numerous negative experiences with CS centers and in each case I was left feeling frustrated without any way to press my claims. Your idea seems interesting but I’ve recently came across a new and free service that I think provides a greater utility in this regards.

    The service is called 321-CALL-LOG and it allows users to automatically record, authenticate, and notarize telephone and email conversations they have with customer service representatives. Purpose of the service is to empower consumers when dealing with CS centers by offering a set of feature intended to make companies accountable for their poor customer service. In order to be legally compliant the service announces to the agent every 3 minutes that the call is being recorded. When a call has been completed users are able to retrieve and email their calls to customer services reps through the website. In this way 321-CALL-LOG gives consumers a systematic way to make customer service reps accountable for what they say or promised to consumers.

    I have been using the service and have become a fan. These guys are just getting started but I can see that they are on track to provide a truly great CS service.

    Checkout the site at:

    Currently the service is on invitation only bases but BETA account are very accessible.

  20. Brandon

    You’ve got to check out Highrise. It just launched and it’s perfect for this.

  21. J

    And remember ‘Ctrl+;’ will insert today’s date into a cell and ‘Ctrl+Shift+;’ inserts the current time.

  22. San Diego SEO

    You are right about Sprint they do lie and the customer support is only good at one thing. Arguing! When I switched over to the iPhone they switched tactics ( Fraud ). They will do anything to keep someone in a contract and bleed cash from them. I wish I had thought of keeping records of every call. Would have made my case a lot easier.

  23. Angus Lau

    We do this for our own customer service log at EditGrid.

  24. cc

    As a customer service rep for a well known insurance company it is amazing to me to see how many people forget that we are under paid, hard working, struggling to make ends meet, people just as you are. We are required to follow our rules and regulations on our job just as you are on yours. We have certain tasks with each phone call that we are required to preform. Yelling or cursing at us will not make us preform harder for you. Saying please and thank you will go a very long way. Some of us like to actually help people. Try using manners and see how much more you will get.

  25. K


    It is important to remember that sometimes customers are cursed at, blatantly lied to, hung up on. The same things you describe being done to reps is sometimes done to customers as well. The difference is customers are paying for a service. That is why most people get frustrated. I understand it may not be the most high-paying or rewarding job and everyone has a bad day sometimes. If you are doing your job, then you have no reason to fear being taped.

  26. Ariel

    I work for in the customer service field and I think this log is great! From my standpoint as a customer but also as a rep as well because when you call a company and say something was “supposed to be done… a while ago” we don’t know what “a while ago” for you means. Therefore it saves time and will end up with much faster results to know when the call being referenced to actually took place. Also I do not know about other companies, but for my current and and last 2 positions held they did not auth call recording. That being said you must make sure you verbally tell the person they are being recorded even if it is notifying the rep if you are advised to stop recording and you don’t you could be hung up on per policy which will only tick you off more. If you continue to try to record most companies can legally put you on a write in only status which means you cannot legally call the company at all for any reason. I personally don’t care if I am recorded because I understand where due to human error there are always mistakes and people will get annoyed when something is not done as promised. I understand people are mad at the situation not at me.