The ability to use customer service phrases that instill confidence is one of the best skills you can develop in your staff. Often times, well-meaning people create distrust or even conflict simply by the words they choose. Here are 5 things to NEVER say to a customer, and what to say instead.
Customer Service Phrases To Use Instead of….
1. It’s Not Our Policy.
Yikes. While it may be true, no customer wants to hear that something they want is against policy. Yet, if it is “against policy,” what’s a customer service superstar to do? Here’s a 4-step solution, complete with positive customer service phrases, that can help in this situation.
- Empathize: Say something like, “I can understand why you would want that. I would want that as well.” When you begin by putting yourself in the shoes of your customer, instead of getting defensive, it helps to de-escalate any impending conflict.
- Speak Positively: Instead of saying “…but that’s not our policy,” use positive language that shows you truly want to help. For instance, “As much as I would like to help, I’m not able to offer that solution at this time.” (If you know the specific reason, share that as well. For instance, “the concern is for everyone’s safety.”)
- Probe Further: Ask for clarification as to the reason behind their request. “Tell me a little bit more about why you’re asking, so I can better understand.” Sometimes, if you can get them to tell you more, it will open up other solutions that will be just as helpful.
- Offer Alternative Solutions: Always focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t do. “Based on what you’re telling me, I can happily offer you this solution or that solution. Which one would be most helpful?”
While you’ll never be able to please everyone, using positive customer service phrases instead of hiding behind “it’s against policy,” will certainly satisfy most reasonable people, and paint you as a superstar who truly wants to help.
2. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
When you say this to a customer they hear, “You aren’t important. I’ll get back to you whenever…if ever.” Instead say something like, “Do you mind if I take a little time to research the best solution? (Sure) Thank you! Give me an hour and I’ll get back to you by 11:00am today. Will that work for you?” As my friend David Glickman always says, the more specific, the more terrific!
3. We’re so short staffed today.
Eek! Sometimes we use this phrase when we’re feeling under pressure and we need to give the customer a reason why we’re late, or not getting to everything as quickly as they might like. However, when you tell your client that you’re “short of staff,” what they hear is “this company doesn’t have the ability to take care of their customers.” That doesn’t instill confidence at all. Or, they may feel sorry for you. This may feel good until you realize that your job as a customer service superstar is to make customers feel good about themselves, not bad for you. Instead, simply acknowledging people and giving them a time frame of when to expect you is a better solution. For instance, “Good Morning, Mrs. Jones! I just wanted to let you know that today I’m your nurse. We’re going to do X,Y, and Z today, and I will be back in less than 30 minutes to get started.” Or “Hello everyone! As you can see, we’re quite crowded today. We’re going to move as quickly as we can, one at a time, until everyone is seated.” While in some situations you may feel close to your customers, there is no need to burden them with your woes. Focus instead on making them feel good and, if needed, explore solutions to staffing shortages behind closed doors.
4. May I talk to the head of the household?
Oh boy, this is a hot button with me! Twice I’ve had salespeople ask me this when they weren’t getting anywhere with me. Fortunately, I have an amazing husband who took the phone and told them both that I was the boss and if I didn’t want their services, neither did he. (For the record, neither of us thinks of ourselves as the boss.) Instead, treat the person you’re talking to like the most important person in the room (or the other end of the phone.) If it’s a sales situation, and they aren’t interested, simply say: “I understand you’re not interested at this time. Would you mind if I checked back in a couple of months? Or can I send some information so you can peruse at your leisure?” You have a much better chance of earning their business later if you made them feel significant and important rather than a second class citizen. On a similar note, be sure to talk to everyone in a party rather than focus on one person to the exclusion of everyone else.
5. You need to talk to this person.
In other words, “this isn’t my job, it’s theirs.” The truth is it’s all of our jobs to provide our customers with red carpet customer service. However, it may also be the truth that Joan is the person who handles their request. In this case, it’s simply a matter of using more positive customer service phrases. For instance, “I understand you’re looking for X,Y, and Z. Excellent! Joan is the absolute best person to help you with that. Do you mind if I put you on a brief hold, while I get Joan on the phone?” Here’s an additional tip: Use a warm transfer by getting Joan on the phone first and giving her the customer’s name and request. Your customer will be thrilled they don’t have to repeat their question again and you’ll look like the red carpet superstar you are! Remember, practicing and using these positive customer service phrases not only provides a better experience for your clients, patients or guest, but it makes your job easier by maximizing confidence and minimizing conflict! Also, comment below. What phrases don’t you like to hear as a customer and what should people say instead? Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder and CEO of Red Carpet Learning Systems, Inc, and leads a team of experts who provide tools and training to help you engage your team to deliver red carpet service to your customers. She’s the author of two books on customer service including her latest, 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers.