Customer Experience News & Trends

4 customer situations when you need to just shut up

Zip it! That’s sound advice in many customer situations. Keep reading for times when you just need to shut up.

When working with customers, sometimes the best way to keep the experience positive is to let silence prevail.

“Playing dumb means that you pretend like you didn’t see it or hear it when another person does or says something ill-advised,” says Geoffrey Tumlin, author of Stop Talking, Start Communicating: Counterintuitive Secrets to Success in Business and In Life. “This strategy benefits you, the other person and the underlying relationship.”

Let it go unsaid

These are good times to stay silent, Tumlin suggests:

  1. The customer says something ridiculous. It’s a moment when you want to roll your eyes, sigh or raise your eyebrows. Those actions speak louder than words — so it’s best to stay quiet and motionless.
  2. You know better. You’re trained to solve problems, but you can’t fix everything. Sometimes, it’s best to muzzle your inner know-it-all. Recognize moments when customers need to feel they’re right, and hold your tongue (unless they’re in danger, of course).
  3. The fire is burning hot. Many times, the best reaction to customer fury is no reaction. When customers are angry and venting, let them go on until they’ve let it all out. And when they’re finished, they’ll be ready for some reassurance, not resistance.
  4. The attack is personal. Every once in a while, a customer will go too far — by cursing or insulting a front-line employee, or making threats. That’s the time when the conversation needs to end. Say, “We should discuss this when everyone is calmer,” and walk away from the conversation.

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