Use the wrong words with customers, and you may not have the chance to help them again.
Some words and phrases do more damage than a full-on mistake. Words can’t be taken back, but mistakes can be fixed.
Here are 11 words and phrases you should avoid, whether you’re talking or writing:
- I’m sorry, but … Ok, ok, we know what you’re thinking: I have to apologize to customers when something goes wrong! And we agree. But you don’t need to apologize for doing your job. Avoid statements such as “I’m sorry to interrupt, but …” or “I’m sorry about the follow up, but …” As long as the reason for contacting customers is valuable, say why you’re calling or messaging without an apology.
- No problem. It starts on a negative note, and depending on your tone, actually sounds like helping is a problem. Say, “Yes.”
- Nope. Customers don’t want to hear “no” but they understand that some things just aren’t possible. “Nope” is a more condescending form of rejection.
- Unfortunately. You’re setting customers up for disappointment when you start a sentence this way. Instead of focusing on what can’t happen, tell them what you can do.
- Actually. This word almost always precedes a contraction or correction to what customers have said. When you don’t see things the same way they do, say, “Let’s agre that we’re both on the same page here."
- That’s how it is (or It is what it is). This is the equivalent of telling customers, “You’re out of luck.” Instead, turn their attention to something you can do or has been done to benefit them.
- They. “They say we have to …” “They told me to tell you …” When service pros use “they” to describe their company or its leaders, they distance themselves from both sides of the equation – their employer and customers. That’s off-putting for customers. Instead, create a personal experience by saying, “I” more often. “I can …” “I looked into this and …” “I will ….”
- I need. Change the focus from you to customers with better phrases such as, “Can you please provide …?” or “Are you able to …?”
- Assigned. You may have been assigned to help a customer, but telling him or her that sounds a little more like you’ve been forced to help. Say, “I will help you today” or “I get to work on this with you.”
- Touching base. If the only thing you have to offer is an unsolicited call or email to “touch base,” skip it. Contact customers when you have something valuable to share.