Whether you’ve been involved in the customer experience for a year or 25 years, you’ll find that some old-school practices will always be effective. Here are eight you’ll want to commit to memory.
Although the means of communicating with customers has evolved quickly in recent years — from handshakes and conversations, to electronic signatures and online chats — some words and phrases are particularly powerful in building customer relationships.
“The words we use are an initial indication of our character, and our character speaks to our trustworthiness,” says, J.N. Whiddon, author of The Old School Advantage: Timeless Tools for Every Generation. “We must speak not only with sincerity, but also with integrity.”
In the right context, these words and phrases offer what Whiddon calls an “Old School Advantage” in creating better customer experiences:
1. ‘First things first’
It suggests you don’t want to rush customers through the process and you want to get everything in order for them. Some examples:
- To build rapport: “First things first, how have you been?”
- To set priorities: “First things first, let’s make sure I have your most current information.”
- To calm any frustrations: “First things first, tell me more about what’s going on.”
This tells customers you’re on their side. You’re focused on them and what they want or need. You are committed to their success.
For instance, “I’m determined to get this resolved today.” Or “I’ve considered your situation and determined that the best option for you is …”
Of course, you always tell customers the truth. But when you add the word to what you’re explaining, you let them know that you’re breaking things down to get to the core issue. You are solving problems. Similar terms you might try, too: “facts” or “evidence.”
For example, “All evidence points to a break down in the reverse pipe, and this is how we can fix it.” Or, “I’ve gathered the facts, and you’ll like what I’ve uncovered.”
It’s also effective when you’ve made a mistake. Example: “The truth boils down to this: We messed up.”
4. ‘Let’s get to work’
This phrase packs a lot of punch. It shows your positive attitude and an eagerness to get things done.
Say, “Let’s get to work on figuring this out for you.” Or “We’ll get right to work on your order.”
This phrase indicates you and your company want to strengthen relationships and build partnerships. You aren’t just handling transactions. You will be involved in the real work — whether that’s solving problems, creating solutions or being proactive.
Examples: “With our hands-on approach, you’ll have a tech on-site for the first 15 days after installation.” Or, “I’ll keep my hands on your special order until it’s ready for shipment.”
Some modern words — such as “awesome” and “cool” — outpace the use of “exceptional” and its similar adjective, “extraordinary.” That’s what makes these old-school words more powerful now. They indicate something is above and beyond.
For instance, “I’m going to have you work with Susan. She’s an exceptional event planner.” Or “You should be pleased with the new model. It has had extraordinary industry and customer reviews.”
7. ‘Nothing is more important than …’
You can gain undivided attention with this phrase. Or you can flatter customers.
For instance, “Nothing is more important than shutting off the valve in 30 minutes.” Or “Nothing is more important to us than getting the special order right and on your premises by Tuesday afternoon.”
This is just one of the five “ability” words that call attention to your quality attributes. Use and mean these often: responsibility, predictability, accountability, reliability, stability.
They mean you consistently do what you say you will do.
Some examples: “I take responsibility for seeing this through.” “Our reliability is a result of hard work from loyal employees.” “Our product team has upgraded speed while maintaining predictable accuracy.”