First thing first; words matter. And while there are no magic formulas or cheatsheets on say and don’t say phrases —because customer service is basically about people— the truth remains there are ways the human brain processes language that must be considered. For instance, saying “a pre-loved car” may most likely sound more appealing to a prospective buyer than saying “secondhand” or “used car”.
In essence, words are powerful; they can influence how people respond to things or situations, including your customers. And interestingly, the phrases and choice of words used can be helpful for both the customer and employees. If you have ever had to face an unhappy customer, you know how uncomfortable it can be.
The right words and phrases go a long way to make you look competent and also instill a sense of confidence in your customers —generally, these phrases are designed to improve service in terms of quality of care.
Your Words Influence Customer Experience
I’m not a huge fan of scripting. It can come across as rote and insincere if your “scripts” are not fully embraced by everyone on your team. However, you can encourage team members to expand their vocabularies and use language that make your customers feel like you care, instead of noncommittal words.
For example, words such as; “Uhha”, “Okay”, “Yeah”, “Sure” sends a nonchalant energy that doesn’t instill confidence in anyone at all. Worse yet are “Nope”, “It’s not our fault”, or “Please calm down”. Consider them banned! Resist the urge to use words or phrases that may unconsciously come off as rude, cold, or indifferent.
So, what are the right words, and how do you use them?
“Okay, Donna. What should we say then?” Well, Mother Theresa once said, “Kind words may be short and easy to say, but their echoes are truly endless.” So, if you want to echo your company’s quality of care with words, these are some appropriate phrases to use.
- “I definitely can help you with that”
- “Certainly, I am happy to find the right answers for you”
- “I absolutely will do everything in my power to resolve this to your satisfaction”
- “I would be delighted to look that up for you”
- “I’d be happy to help”
- “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
When you use kind words in the right way, what you’re saying to your customers is; I know my stuff, I am ready and here to help, and I’m going to do everything in my power to get answers for you. Red carpet all the way!
Also, instead of saying “Please calm down” when faced with an upset customer, start with empathy. Say something like “Yeah, I’d be frustrated too” or “I’m really sorry about this”. It conveys the message that you understand their feelings and empathize with them.
Finally, beyond the words and phrases, the tone with which they’re being said goes a very long way to creating a great customer service experience too, especially on a telephone call. So, ensure to sound alive; your tone should sound enthusiastic or laced with concern, depending on the scenario.
In summary, once again, words matter. Choose yours carefully and the confidence your customers have in you will increase. What are your favorite phrases to use when serving customers?
Donna Cutting is a workplace culture consultant that works with organizational leaders to create cultures of happy, caring people who deliver red carpet customer service. She’s the author of 3 books including 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers (Career Press, 2015) and the forthcoming Employees First! Inspire, Engage, and Focus on the HEART of Your Organization (Red Wheel-Weiser/Career Press, 2022). For video tips visit www.theredcarpetway.tv