5 Things You Should Never Say to a Customer

Lauren Krause
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When angry consumers turn to social media to voice their concerns, a private customer service issue can become a public spectacle and cripple your company's reputation. Customer complaints have to be handled delicately, or you may give the impression that your company doesn't care about being helpful or providing quality service. Foster an attentive and engaging team by making sure your customer service staff aren't using dismissive phrases every consumer hates.

1. "I Don't Know."

This common phrase seems honest and innocent, but it makes customers think you aren't willing to put any effort into finding an answer. Customers don't expect every employee to know everything, but they are more likely to go home satisfied if they feel you exhausted every avenue available to fix the problem.

2. "I Can't Help You."

Customer service is all about conflict-resolution, so refusing to offer assistance comes across as choosing not to do your job. In many cases, customers have already suffered through lengthy automated phone calls or went from one department to the next searching for the one elusive manager capable of handling their problem. If customers feel dismissed after being forced to waste time, they may feel compelled to give your competitors new business.

3. "Sorry, It's Company Policy."

Reciting company rules is usually the last stop on the "I can't help you" train. These dreaded words make customers feel like they are being blamed for not knowing all the minute details of how your company operates. Customers shouldn't feel as though they must battle with your customer service staff to receive the services they already paid for. Instead of using company rules as a roadblock, show your willingness to work out an arrangement that satisfies the customer's specific needs.

4. "This Isn't What You Want."

Believing you have the power to read a customer's mind is a fast way to incite frustration. Even if you're right and genuinely trying to be helpful, customers may think you aren't listening when you try to push them towards a different product. Avoid telling customers they are wrong. Give them what they ask for, and casually suggest other options to steer them in the right direction, says Goviva president Robert Tuchman in "Entrepreneur" magazine.

5. "Go to Our Website."

Contacting your company by phone should be an alternative to going online or meeting in person. Simple customer complaints are often worsened when customer service staff tell visitors or callers to go elsewhere and find the information themselves. Even if visiting the website is necessary for filling out a form, make the task more efficient for customers by providing direct links to the information they are looking for.

Customer service isn't a perfect science, and some consumers may react in a combative manner no matter how well you navigate a difficult complaint. Yet, you can still set an example for your staff by treating each customer's problem as an important and unique situation. Whether or not you're able to resolve every case favorably, customers are more likely to become repeat shoppers if they are convinced your customer service staff cares about their concerns.



Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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