Every day, we hear stories about customer service “plague phrases”—the words that infect companies and kill customers’ experiences. Whatever you do, train your employees to avoid these phrases at all costs:
“That’s not our policy” or “We don’t do that”
What your customers hear is an outright refusal to help, and what you’ll hear after the call may be silence. These statements serve to end conversations, not solve problems, and they could also end your relationship with your customers.
Use this instead: Tell your customers what you can do. Use positive, action-oriented phrases to show your customers you are doing something to address the issues they’ve come to you with. “Here’s what I can do” or “Let’s discuss what’s possible in this circumstance” are great examples.
“That’s not my department”
Keep in mind that your customers don’t know your organizational structure; they just want your company to help them. In some situations, a solution is as simple as re-routing a phone call.
Use this instead: thank customers for their calls, and tell them that you can connect them to the department they’re looking for. There’s no need to say they called the “wrong person.”
“There’s nothing I can do”
There’s always something you can do to solve an upset customer’s problem, even if it comes down to refunding his or her purchase.
Use this instead: Promote creative solutions. Give your employees freedom to solve small problems before they snowball into major issues. You’ll not only leave your customers satisfied, but you’ll empower your employees to think on their own, making them even more valuable to your company.
“It’s not our fault”
We get it, the issue at hand may not actually be your fault. But your customers paid your company, and so, they need you to address the issue. It’s your responsibility.
Use this instead: Start with an apology. “I’m sorry about that, (the inconvenience) has to be very annoying for you. What can we do to make this right?”
“If you had done/read/followed…” or “You’re not doing it right”
Step into your customers shoes for a moment. How did you feel the last time someone told you that you were doing something wrong? Probably ashamed, embarrassed, and upset—the complete opposite of how you want your customers to feel! Don’t distance yourself from your customers by shaming them with authoritarian statements.
Use this instead: Realizing that a customer is already frustrated and needs you to help not only allows you to fix the problem, but to go above and beyond to make the customer happy again. Think of yourself as the customer’s only hope. Once you’ve solved the problem, give them an opportunity to feel good about themselves again as well as a way to contact you if they face a similar dilemma.
“Can you hold for a minute?”
Your customer called because they wanted an immediate response, so be fast. When you absolutely must make a customer wait, give them a specific time they’ll be waiting for, an explanation, and empathize with their situation.
Use this instead: “I am going to talk to Bob, our manager, about that question right now. I expect that it will take five minutes. Would you like me to call you back when I have more information, or would you rather stay on the line?” This gives your customer an explanation as well as avoiding an opportunity for them to say, “No, I absolutely will not wait!”
Suggesting to an angry customer that he or she is at fault for his or her feelings will only escalate the issue. You’ve got to be the one to keep the situation calm.
Use this instead: Tom Murphy suggests using these tactics to help “cool down a steamed customer”:
- Lower your voice as your customer raises his/hers. This sends a signal to the brain that helps reduce anxiety, both yours and the customer’s.
- Do not interrupt.
- Offer as much information as your customer will listen to.
- Brainstorm alternatives together.
It may seem insignificant, but saying “I’ll try” to a customer signals that you’re accepting your solution may fail, which causes panic in a situation that really can’t afford it. Jeff Haden has this to say:
“Trying creates greater uncertainty, and uncertainty is the kiss of death to a customer relationship.”
Use this instead: As Haden says,
“All you can do is all you can do.”
In other words, tell your customers what you know you are able to do and then do it. No try necessary!
Do you want to know without a doubt if your team has banished these eight phrases from its vocabulary? With call recording you can know that (and more!). You can continue to capitalize on each conversation your employees have: to know that it happened, record it, evaluate it and then use it as a tool in training your customer representatives.