You may only be able to make a first impression once, but every time you talk to customers you have the opportunity to make an even better impression. Here’s how.
Some phrases spark positive reactions and great interactions with customers. Some are ice breakers. Others enable conversations to move forward. Some generate the perfect ending.
Use this cheat sheet of go-to phrases, inspired by TheMid.com Executive Editor Bill Murphy, Jr., in conversations with customers.
Kick it off
Use these phrases to start conversations on the right foot:
- Hello/Good morning/Good evening. Common courtesies are not so common these days. Many interactions start with a person whose eyes and attention are averted, saying, “Your account number?” or “What do you need?”
- I’m glad to see (or hear or meet) you. That makes people feel special immediately.
- Mr., Mrs., Dr., Sir, Mam. We live in an increasingly informal world. Use formality to start a conversation, and let customers decide if they want to be informal. If they do, they’ll say something like, “Please call me Bill.”
- I understand. Whether it’s the customer’s issue, situation or feelings, telling the person you understand early in the conversation will put him or her at ease.
- After you. You can use this polite phrase and gesture if you’re with a customer and opening the door or entering a meeting room. On the phone, use it to suggest the customer say everything he needs to before you talk.
- You’re welcome. Drop “No problem,” which starts with a negative word. “You’re welcome” focuses on the customer.
Keep it going
These phrases can help you show interest in customers and keep conversations moving in a positive direction:
- Can you tell me about … ? Unless you need to know a very specific thing (such as a date, exact number or location), invite customers to give more information in a way that makes them comfortable.
- This is Carlo. He’s really good at … Whether you have to pass customers onto a colleague or you just involve a co-worker in a situation, this builds credibility. The same goes for customers. When you introduce them, mention something positive: “This is Mrs. Smith. She’s one of our loyal customers who knows how to handle our products as if she designed them.”
- I’m really impressed by the way you … Sincere compliments will get you a lot of places. You can complement customers on their professionalism, decisions, timely orders, thoughtful consideration, loyalty or ability to make effective decisions.
- You were right. Let customers know when they’ve had a good idea or made a suggestion that worked out well. Everyone likes to hear when they made the right choice.
- Can I get your thoughts on this? This will serve you well for two reasons: You’re telling customers that you respect their opinions and you’re getting insight on the best way to handle a situation. They may back up what you’re thinking or suggest a better idea.
Continue the support
These phrases are powerful in showing that you’re happy to have the relationship, and you’ll continue to support customers and their needs:
- Congratulations! Customers mention good news often, and it’s far better met with an enthusiastic “Congratulations” than an uninspired “That’s good.”
- We’re in this together. Solidarity is a powerful thing. It makes customers feel like part of your organization and shows you’re out for their best interests.
- Why not? So often, we ask customers (and ourselves), “Why?” The better — and more positive — question is “Why not?” It opens possibilities.
- It’ll be just what you want. That assures customers in a memorable way that they’ve made good choices with a reliable employee and company.
- Thank you. It just can’t be said enough.
You can use these phrases as they are. But they’ll likely evolve into go-to phrases that naturally fit you or your industry.