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October 2013 | See all articles in this issue

5 Comments that kill customer service

A survey by Nancy Friedman, a.k.a. the Telephone Doctor, identified 5 common comments that are sure to put customers on edge. Her advice? Eliminate them from your company’s conversation.

1. "It's not our policy."- Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it's something we need to deal with on a daily basis I'm sure. What we realized was it's not necessarily the policy that's frustrating, it's blurting out first and foremost, "It's not our policy" or in some cases it's "their" policy. The policy needs to be rephrased so that it starts off in a more positive way. We like to say "rejecting gently." And rephrasing policies are a good way to explain what's not gonna happen.

Next time you find yourself saying, "That's not our (their) policy." Stop. Regroup and reword. Buffer it with, "Let me see what we can do. Normally the policy of that company doesn't allow last minute changes. (The request MUST be stated so the customer hears that you're going to go to bat for them.) However, we can sure tackle this." What happens here is sometimes when we go back on behalf of the client, it works. And then sometimes it doesn't. But at least we double checked. And we didn't just slough it off with, "I'm sorry. It's not our/their policy."

2. "Our computers are so slow." - Big excuse. Everyone's computer runs slow every once in a while. When you complain about your computer it's as though, you're complaining about your company. That's how it's perceived. And perception is reality. Take the time to say, "This might take a bit longer than I'd like it to. Tell me about..." and then ask a benign question that will take time and let the customer talk.
While most people do understand slow computers, they don't like it. It kills the conversation.

3. "Calm Down." - Oh man does that make the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show I've watched lately when someone is told to "calm down," the next words are, "Don't you tell me to calm down."

Bill O'Reilly said that to a guest the other night. And the guest slammed back at him "don't you tell me to calm down." There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and come in at the appropriate time with sympathetic and empathetic wording. Instructions on how to handle something is one of the last things they need. Get rid of "calm down."

4. "No Problem." - And they're thinking, "When was I a problem?" Believe we can thank the 'islands' for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what's the first thing the waiter says? Right, "no problem."

Well on the cruise it may be ok; however, back home it should be "you're welcome," "my pleasure," "happy to help," and a host of other ways to let the customer know you're glad to do that. No problem appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation.

5. "Yes, but.." - Hmm what's wrong with that? We all say it. Well, what's wrong with that is the minute we say "yes, but," the client knows something negative is coming.

If you have ever said, "I love you so much, but..." There's a condition coming, isn't there? Here's one way to change that: "Yes, we can do that. There is, however, a $50 additional fee." Doesn't that sound better than, "Yes but..."?

Most people have phrases and pet peeves which aggravate them. Keep a list of your killer words (along with ours) and make an effort to avoid them.

Learn more about Nancy Friedman and the services of the Telephone Doctor at www.nancyfriedman.com.



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