In August I shared “10 things you shouldn’t say to co-workers,” and in September, “10 things you shouldn’t say to your boss.” This month I’m back with things you shouldn’t say to customers. But First-Rate Customer Service Forum recently shared “5 things you shouldn’t say to customers” and I’m not interested in reinventing the wheel, so today I’ll add to that list:
- “Exhausted!” or “Counting down until my shift ends!” When checking out at a store, I always greet the employee with a friendly “Hi, how are you?” It catches me off guard when the person’s response is negative. In other social situations—if I were speaking to a friend, for example—I would welcome the honesty, but when you’re talking to customers, it’s best to be positive. Instead say: “I’m well, thank you!” or “Looking forward to enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having.”
- “What a jerk!” I’ve witnessed more than a few angry customers in stores. Sometimes it seems as though the anger is completely valid; other times it appears as though they are taking out their frustration on a customer service rep who’s just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless, I’m always impressed by the reps who maintain their composure after the person leaves. Instead of drawing further attention to the negative exchange, those reps say things like “I’m sorry for the wait. How may I help you today?” or “I apologize for that scene. What can I do for you?” Those transitions have a calming effect on the remaining customers.
- “You can try, but my manager is just going to tell you the same thing.” I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve asked to speak with a manager, but in those rare instances, I do not like to be told that the supervisor isn’t going to listen to my complaint with an open mind. Instead say: “I’m not authorized to do that, but let me transfer you to my supervisor.”
- “OK.” I’ve never felt more blown-off by a customer service representative than I did on a phone call last week. I was attempting to book reservations for a trip, and I checked the business’s website before calling. The site said that they still had room available, but when I called—after waiting on hold for a good long while—the unfriendly man I spoke with told me they were sold out. I explained to him that the website wasn’t accurate and should be updated. His response: “OK.” Not another word. If a customer gives you feedback, reply gratefully. Say: “Thank you for making me aware of that. I’ll make sure it gets taken care of as soon as possible.”
- “Would you like to save an extra __% today?” I understand that many stores require their employees to ask this, so I don’t begrudge the individual customer service reps, but boy does that question annoy me. Of course, I’d like to save that percentage—or any percentage—but I’m not interested in paying for a membership or applying for a special credit card with horrible rates. I strongly prefer this far less manipulative alternative: “Are you familiar with our rewards program?”
What other phrases do you avoid saying to customers?
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[Image Source: Mindaugas Danys]