5 Phrases That Make Customers Think Your Employees Don’t Really Care

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I was trying to check in for my American Airlines flight on my phone. I was able to get one boarding pass, but not the other. After several failed attempts, I called American and explained my problem. I was transferred quickly and the person I ended up with looked into my itinerary and then said,

“Ms. Golden, this is a system error. You are checked in all the way through to Tulsa. I don’t want you to worry at all. Your flight is confirmed and you are checked in. You have a few options for getting your boarding pass (she gave me 3 easy options), but I want you to know it’s all good. You’re confirmed and checked in.”

I don’t want you to worry at all.

“I don’t want you to worry at all.” was exactly the right thing to say to me. The employee at American zeroed in on my concern that my flight wasn’t confirmed and she perfectly used the right words to acknowledge my concern and put me at ease.

Every interaction your employees have with customers is an opportunity to make the customer experience easy, helpful and friendly. The words your employees use make all of the difference. The lady at American used the right words. The wrong words can cause dis-ease in customers, or leave customers thinking you don’t care. In this article, I’m sharing 5 phrases that cause dis-ease and make customers believe that you don’t care.

1. “The only thing I can do is…”

Customers, especially if they happen to be angry, need options. Never make a client feel pushed into a corner. Even if you know, for example, that you have no appointments available for a customer today, pretend to check before telling them no. Do it this way. “We work on an appointment system. Let me check to see if we have openings today.” Then, “I can get you in tomorrow at 1:00 pm.” That took a few more words than, “The only thing I can do is…” but it sounds so much more helpful.

2. “I can let you talk to my supervisor, but she’s just gonna say the same thing I’ve already told you.”

This phrase is usually accurate. Escalated calls to supervisors usually are conversations where the same thing is stated to customers. Still, you don’t want to say this outright. It sounds defensive, and most certainly, it makes the customer more intent on speaking with a supervisor. Maybe try, “I can certainly connect you with a supervisor. I’d like first to try to help you. Will you allow me to try to help you?” If the customer insists on speaking to a supervisor, go ahead and transfer with a right attitude.

3. “Someone will get back to you.”

Imagine you’re the customer and you’ve just called about a problem, an issue that is pretty serious to you. Now imagine the employee on the other end of the phone says, “Someone will get back to you.” Would that work for you? It would be unsettling to me, and to many customers. Customers need and prefer specificity. Someone will get back to you is vague and wide open. It would be better to say, “I am passing this on to our Review Team, and someone from our Review Team will reach out to you by email in 5-7 days.” Being specific helps customers to relax and trust you, and it minimizes the chances that they’ll be calling you back in 3 or 4 days wondering what’s going on.

4. “Sir, I need you to calm down.”

If your significant other told you to take it easy in the middle of an argument, would that make you take it easy? Probably not. More likely, you would become more intense. Guess what? Telling an angry customer to calm down won’t make him go easy either. You’re better off to address the anger head-on, “I realize you’re upset Mr. Kelly. I want to get to the bottom of this just as much as you do.”

5. “I’m fine.”

I was sitting in my office listening to recorded calls from one of my clients, as I often do ahead of a customer experience workshop. On one call a customer said, “Hi Paul! How are you?” And Paul, the employee, said, “I’m all right.” That’s it. That’s all he said. How rude! If someone asks how you are, common courtesy calls for you to respond in a friendly manner. You can be friendly even without asking the customer how they are. Here’s how you do that, “I’m well. How nice of you to ask. How may I help you this afternoon?”


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For more help in how to talk to customers, check out:

How to Talk to Customers: Friendliness, Tone & Connection – Live webinar I’m hosting on April 5, 2017. Attend live or get the recording, which my office sends out within 4 hours of the event.

Customer Service Onsite Training Workshops – Fully Customized, Engaging, Fun Customer Service Training for your team

Customer Service eLearning– 10 courses to improve the way your employees talk to customers over the phone and email

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