If you say “because” when you’re telling a customer something, you’ll significantly increase the chance that they’ll accept your word as final.
Here’s Why Saying “Because” Works
Research by psychologist Ellen Langer found that saying “because,” and then tossing out a reason as insignificant as a discarded rubber band, got people to agree. In her research, Ellen created a scenario where a person wanted to cut in line to use a copier in a library, and the request was made three different ways:
1. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
60% of the time this question worked, and the person was able to cut in line.
2. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”
This absurd reason worked 93% of the time.
3. “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”
Pleading with urgency, even with a ludicrous need, upped the success rate to 94%.
Using the “because” tactic, you can increase the chances of a customer accepting your word as final. I teach and role-play this strategy in my de-escalation workshops.
Here’s all you have to do to use the “because” tactic for de-escalation.
- Say the word “because”
- Create a sense of urgency
For one of my car rental clients, we took one of the most frequent situations that escalate – drivers under 25 losing their minds when they find out they can’t rent a car.
Without because, here’s the employee response:
“We don’t rent to drivers under the age of 25.”
and when we added “because,” it looked like this:
“We can’t rent a vehicle to you because you’re under 25, and neither our insurance nor your auto insurance will cover medical or collision costs for any driver under the age of 25 in our rental vehicles.”
The policy is the same. Customers are still upset. But they accept the employee’s word without escalating in aggression or asking to talk to a manager.
Muttering “because,” giving a reason, and then topping the explanation with a sense of urgency gets customers to agree by a double-digit percentage increase.
Try this the next time you have to tell a customer something in a situation where you know escalation is likely. Make sure you say “because,” and then provide a reason that creates urgency. When you try this little trick, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is for customers to accept your word as final, thus reducing escalations.
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