Customer Experience News & Trends

Worst things you can say to customers post-pandemic

The coronavirus has disrupted enough as is. You don’t need a coronavirus faux pas to disrupt any customer experience going forward. So be careful what you say. 

Customers are overwhelmed, uncertain and frustrated. (We know, so are you.)

The wrong words in any customer interaction can turn the experience into a bad one – and negatively affect their immediate and long-term outlook on your organization.

Front-line customer experience professionals want to avoid certain phrases and responses when working with customers, whether the situation is pandemic-related or not.

What to avoid – and what to do

Any crisis situation calls for patience, understanding and careful handling. You’ll want to avoid these phrases in conversations, email and social media.

  • We can’t do that. Now’s the time to be flexible. Every consumer and business needs it. Leaders and front-line pros want to work on ways to offer flexibility on customer requests. Say, Let’s see what we can do.
  • It has to be done now. With the uncertainty a crisis causes, you want to extend deadlines and expectations as much as possible for good customers. Things look bleak in the moment. So focus on a time that’s reasonable for your organization to wait it out. Say, Let’s revisit this in a month, and consider the options. I’ll contact you on (date).
  • I have no idea. You and your company’s situation may be just as uncertain as your customers’. But you need to give them some level of confidence in your capabilities to make things happen. Say, Let’s look at this again as more pans out this week. I’ll call you Monday to see where things are.
  • It’s impossible to get that done now. Yes, it feels like the world is on pause, and nothing will ever move through a supply chain – or even just your office – again. But it will happen again, albeit slowly, and customers will be happy to just hear you are still working for their needs. Say, We’re working to get this taken care of for you. Once we get X completed, it’ll be Y days.
  • Get a grip. Get over it. Calm down. Pull it together. Any phrase like these, basically telling customers to stop expressing their grief, undermines their emotions, which are real to them. In customer service, you want to validate their feelings, rather then tell them not to have those feelings. Say, I can understand why you’d be upset/frustrated/confused/scared.
  • I’ll get back to you sometime. Nothing is more frustrating in uncertain times than more uncertainty. In a crisis, there’s little anyone can control. But you can control your actions. So give customers as many specifics as you can. Say, I’ll email you by noon tomorrow. Or, I can call with a status update at the end of the day, or if you prefer, an email confirmation when it ships. Or, Our technician is booked through this week. Can I get you an appointment Monday morning or afternoon?
  • ….. That’s silence, and it’s likely the worst thing you can give customers in any crisis, especially the coronavirus. They will wonder if you’re OK (on a human level), if you’ve gone out of business (on a professional level) or if you don’t care about them (on a personal level). Whether you don’t have an answer or are struggling yourself, communicate with customers throughout and after a crisis. Say, This is where we are … and where we’re headed next …. This is what you, our valued customers, can expect.

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