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Uh-oh, Don't Say That! Things You Should Never Say to Customers

Rohini Mohan Apr 17, 2019
A customer service representative must know how to speak to a customer, know when to speak and when to listen, and what to say or avoid saying, in any given situation.
According to a Corporate Equality Index survey, only 1% customers felt that their expectations were met by vendors.
Customer service is a lot like walking the tightrope, and knowing that there are only two ways available to the service provider. One way is to keep on walking and handling the customer's problems with patience, and the other way is to irk the customer and plummet in a downward spiral.
If given the choice, an irritated customer will never return to the place where his complaints are not handled professionally.

For a customer representative, it's all about wordplay and knowing all that there is to know about the product or service you're dealing with.
There should be no scope for misunderstandings, and the customer must not be given the chance to misinterpret the statements of the service provider. This is imperative, so that the customer is provided with a positive experience and is given no reason for further complaints. Here, we have mentioned some things that you should never say to customers.

Avoid Saying: I am unaware of this/I don't know.

It's the customer representative's responsibility to be aware of the service issue broached by the customer.
If the employee is not aware or unsure of a particular problem, he must refrain from letting the customer know about it. Instead, politely asking the customer to hold the line, while connecting him/her to someone who does know how to handle the particular problem is the right thing to do.

Avoid Saying: This is beyond my/our control.

It is not likely that the customer will believe the employee, and will be forced to think that they just simply don't want to help solve the matter.
If the issue is resolvable, make sure that the customer's problems are directed to a senior employee or manager, who can help mend the damage or at least think of a mid-path. Refusing to provide service, providing inadequate, or substandard, service is likely to infuriate the customer, and may create the basis for slamming the next lawsuit on the company.

Avoid Saying: Our company policy does not allow it.

Customers are not expected to know the company policies. Usually, the 'company policy' phrase is used as an excuse to cut the conversation short and prevent the customer from broaching the complaint any further.
While it may work, it is more useful in discouraging the customer, and ensuring that he never returns again, and advises his friends and family from doing the same. Customers must never let some policy hinder their right to receive quality service, nor would it stop them from taking action against substandard service or rude behavior.

Avoid Saying: It's the manufacturer's fault/someone from the company.

No one likes to play the blame game in a professional environment.
Customers do not want to be told about who is responsible for causing the inconvenience; all that they want is to have their problem resolved and be done with. Neither should the service providers pass the blame to the manufacturer and expect the customer to hunt them down.
The customer's query must be taken to the source from where the service was bought, and those are the only service providers a customer must be dealing with. Making such excuses is only going to turn the situation from bad to worse.

Avoid Saying: You have to/you should/need

A customer representative is not expected to order a client around, nor can they force the customer to do something. The customer must always feel like he is in control and being looked after by the service providers.
The best way to avoid such a situation is to politely suggest things to the customer. Instruction pamphlets can also be emailed or faxed to the customer, in case certain steps need to be taken to restart a machine, software, etc.

Avoid Saying: Could you calm down/relax?

If the customer is losing his temper or being rude, the representative must be quiet and let the customer speak his mind. Once the customer has had his say, the service provider must suggest options which can help to resolving matter.

Avoid Saying: What makes you think that?

This is a rude way of telling customers that they are wrong or have misunderstood a fact. Instead, try to find out what the misunderstanding is about.
If there has been some confusion over a company policy, make sure that you explain the rules of your department's policy to them again. Explain as many times as possible, until they understand they were wrong, and not the other way round.

Avoid Saying: You'll have to check at the website.

Directing the customer to the company's website is the best way to avoid a conflict.
It is unacceptable to waste the customer's time, putting them on hold, making them listen to inconclusive explanations, and leave them with nothing except checking the website. If the website offers some help, it is the service representative's duty to send the link of that specific web page to the customer, so that any further inconvenience can be avoided.

Avoid Saying: You're the first to complain.

It is highly unlikely that only one customer has had a particular complaint about a service or product. Even if that is the case, the customer representative is expected to not make the customer feel like a troublemaker.
Instead, the correct approach should be to take steps that will help resolve the customer's problems, and record the complaint for future reference.

Avoid Saying: We're/I'm busy.

Irrespective of how busy the customer representatives may be, it does not justify having to sideline the call or complaint of a customer.
If a customer approaches the desk for help in locating a product, the sales clerk must not stay seated and point towards an aisle, instead, he/she must lead the way and show the exact aisle or bring the product to the customer.
Most importantly, customer representatives must never speak in slang to a customer. Professionalism must be maintained at all times, so that the customer does not feel threatened or disrespected in any way.