Customer Experience News & Trends

Say this – not that – to keep customers happy

Be careful: You might think what you say is nice, practical or businesslike, but customers think it’s just rude.

Some phrases seem natural for the situation, but customers hear them as shove-offs.

Here are 11 phrases you want to avoid — plus better ways to get your point across:

1. ‘Let me look into that’

Sounds helpful, doesn’t it? But to customers, it’s vague and sounds a little like you don’t want to be bothered with the request or question.

Say this: “I want to make sure I get the correct answer for you. I’m going to do some research and follow up with you by the end of the day.”

2. ‘Unfortunately …’

That sets up customers for a let-down. They know rejection follows. Instead, set them up for a different — perhaps better — possibility.

Say this: “Although I can’t do that, here’s a better/similar option …”

3. ‘Let me correct you’

Customers don’t want to be told they’re wrong. And although you aren’t saying “You’re wrong” outright, suggesting you need to correct people implies they’re wrong. Put the onus on yourself.

Say this: “I must not have explained that correctly” or “I must not have been clear on that.”

4. ‘There must have been a misunderstanding’

Although it doesn’t directly point blame, this phrase suggests that customers are responsible for the so-called “miscommunication.” While you don’t have to take responsibility for a misunderstanding, you have to take responsibility for what happens next.

Say this: “Let’s move forward and get this fixed.”

5. ‘I’m so sorry, so so sorry …’

Mistakes happen, and you should apologize for them. But don’t excessively use an apology when you can be working on resolving the issue.

Say this: “I’m sorry this has happened, but I can make this right now. Here’s what I’ll do …”

6. ‘Can you hold on for a minute?’

It’s OK to ask customers to wait, as long as you give them some context. Explain what you’ll do while they wait — whether it’s for a minute, an hour or a day.

Say this: “Here’s what I need to do now … It should take a few minutes. Would you like to wait, or would you prefer I contact you later?”

7. ‘I don’t have any information on that …’

These days, customers expect that you have records of everything they’ve done with your organization — from purchases to requests for maintenance. If you don’t have an immediate electronic or paper trail, dig a little deeper.

Say this: “While I look for that, let me ask: Is there any chance it’s under a different name, address or email account?”

8. ‘I don’t normally do that’

Customers never want to hear what you don’t or can’t do. When they contact you, they expect that you can do just about anything. So let them know what you can do.

Say this: “I know who can take care of this” or “Sue is an expert on this issue. I can connect you with her right away.”

9. Don’t worry about it

You can’t tell customers how to feel. If they’re worried or frustrated, let them be. Just tell them how you’ll take care of things — and the worry or frustration should go away naturally.

Say this: “I will take care of this right away. This is what I will do and what you can expect …”

10. Let me know if you have any other problems

That’s suggests you expect more problems or that they should take control of the follow-up on an issue. Actually, you need to take responsibility for it.

Say this: “I’ll follow up with you tomorrow to make sure everything is going well. Is that OK with you?”

11. ‘You need …’ or ‘You should …’

Customers don’t like to be told what they should or need to do. It’s like being chastised. The best way to fix these phrases is to tell them what you can do for them.

Say this: “I need all the forms today to get you same day service” or “We can give you a full refund with a receipt.”

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