What if the biggest problem with your customer experience was the way your employees spoke with customers? Are your employees ever perceived as indifferent, cold or uncaring? If you called up your own company, mystery shopping as a customer, would you cringe just a little bit at what you heard? If your customer interactions are less than ideal, how would you change them?
How Your Employees Talk to Customers is Everything
How they say ‘no’ when no truly is the only option, the way they explain something the customer doesn’t want to hear, tone, empathy, knowing what to say to the customer who just wants to speak to a supervisor – These are delicate interactions that can make or break your customer experience. Do your employees know how to respond with diplomacy, tact and a caring attitude in situations like these?
Have Your Employees Sit With Me for 60 Minutes. I’ll Help Them.
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 think 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 customer 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 1:00pm.” 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.”
The night before a workshop I delivered last week in Charleston, SC I called the Mellow Mushroom for delivery. I removed cheese and meat from my appetizer, salad and entree. (It sounds like I ate a lot! I did.) The man on the phone asked, “Are you vegan?” To that I said, “Yes, I am.” “Me too,” he said. He then went on to explain that my Quinoa burger included a little egg as a binding and he wanted to know if that was okay. I was fine with that. From there we chatted about us both being “flexible vegans.”
The simple inquiry, “Are you vegan?” led to rapport-building conversation and such a friendly and unique experience for me. The man was friendly. He was genuine. He made me feel completely comfortable with my many customizations. And he gave me an engaging and genuine interaction.
Are your people adding value to your company through their interactions with customers?
Your employees can add value to the customer experience by doing 3 things: Making personal connection, Acknowledging concern, and Empathy
1. Making Personal Connection
This is what the man at Mellow Mushroom did, and it’s so easy to do. In my workshops I tell people to look for something they can comment on, something perhaps that they have in common with the customer. For example, a customer service agent could say, “I ordered that exact same duffle for my daughter. She’s in cheer as well and she loves that she can throw all of her outfits and makeup in it and easily carry the bag over her shoulder.” This sharing helps create rapport because it’s genuine – and it just might lead to a sell or up-sell.
2. Acknowledge Concern
What to say to the yelling or cursing customer
“I’m trying to help you, but if you continue to yell and swear, I am going to ask that you call back another time. It’s up to you…which would you prefer?”
“I’m sorry. It isn’t possible to help while listening to that language. If it stops, I can help.”
“If a few minutes helps you calm down before we continue, that would be fine. You can certainly call me back.”
“I want to help you, yet the language is getting in the way.”
Note: Your tone is critically important with the above statements. You must come across calm, neutral, and non-threatening.
If you liked this tip, you might also like our customer service eLearning, which is loaded with phrases, approaches and templates for how to handle challenging customers.