Six Words To Avoid In Customer Service

They are many ways to antagonize a customer – poor service, less than stellar product or the failure to keep the customer abreast of changes that impact the customer experience among others. One sure way to get on the customer’s “bad side” is to use these dreaded words during interactions – “Sir/Ma’am – What you need to do is… ” I have witnessed (both face to face and phone interactions) customers becoming agitated upon hearing those words! There have been instances where the words were not meant in a condescending manner – the customer service person may have been simply attempting to provide directions or perhaps trying to give instructions while assisting the customer in resolving an issue – the outcome was the same nonetheless. The customer was offended by being told “What you need to do is… ” Now some may say that perhaps the customer was a little too sensitive, but one must remember that some people are sensitive!

When providing your customer with information or instructions, word usage is important to the outcome of the interaction. Utilize the “ask or suggest/not tell” method of communication. From my own personal experience in the customer service industry, the need to choose one’s words carefully can prevent the creation of a sub-par customer experience. Instead of saying to a customer “What you need to do is get a pen and some paper to write down this information.” try asking ” Do you have a pen and some paper available sir/ma’am? I would like to provide you with some information that will help you with this situation.” The initial statement may be vocalized with no harm intended, but most adults would rather not be told what they need to do! Exercise extra caution here when the customer is angry or complaining. Utilization of our featured statement may only lead to big trouble when the customer is upset or unhappy with your product or services.

It’s important to stay on the offensive when providing customer service. Effective communication is a critical component in your customer service toolbox. One’s ability to establish rapport with the customer rests on making the decision to communicate in a friendly, yet professional manner. The wrong choice of words can quickly put you in a defensive mode where you’ll find yourself attempting to explain to the customer and or someone within your organization (supervisor, upper management) what you really meant! When attempting to point your customer in the right direction, use suggestive language such as “May I suggest that you… or “In order for me to assist you with this issue may I ask you to… Such language is hard to be construed as confrontational by the customer. Oftentimes, our word choice can be the difference in our provision of a great customer experience. Every customer deserves a measure of respect, therefore it’s important to ensure that the customer feels that you’re providing assistance versus their being a lecture recipient. Be conscious of how you provide assistance and be sure to stay away from the dreaded six words – What you need to do is…

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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