I cuss. A lot. But never have I dared to cuss at a person in a customer service role. And I get rather upset about lousy customer service and still manage to talk nicely to people about any issues I encounter. Some people cuss, and yell and make threats when they are angry about customer service. This is not okay.
You have to draw the line on unacceptable behavior with customers, just as I hope you do in your interpersonal relationships when people disrespect you. You get the behavior you tolerate. So, don’t tolerate profane language.
Diplomatic comebacks to cussing set you up as professional and assertive, and they help you get the respect you deserve.
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.”
I just finished reviewing calls for a client I’ll be working with in Chicago. Before all of my onsite customer service training workshops, I like to listen to a random sample of calls between employees and customers. This call review helps me to know exactly where to focus in my training.
In today’s call review I noted 5 communication mistakes customer service representatives tended to make repeatedly. These mistakes happened multiple times with the same employees, and I heard these errors being made by several different employees.
Here’s what I summed up on my legal pad after my call review.
Employees often don’t speak in complete sentences. I’d hear things like, “Name?” “Zip code?” and “Serial number?”
There was a lot of overtalking and interrupting. Employees would literally cut customers off mid-sentence or just over-talk them to make sure their point was made. That made me cringe.
Dead-air space wasn’t handled well. While employees were busy looking through notes or trying to find something on the computer, they just let the customer hang on. I could hear keys clicking, gum smacking and occasional sighs, but there was almost no verbal communication during the dead-air space.
The worst part of the calls for me was that there was no personal connection. Customers would often go right into their issue, and then the agent would say something like this: “What’s your serial number?” There was no acknowledgment of the customer’s frustration, no “I’m happy to help you with this,” They just went into probing.
At times I felt like the customer was made to feel stupid. It was like the customer was asking “dumb” questions, though all of the questions seemed reasonable to me. Employees would come back harsh or condescending.
This customer service group is in urgent need of my “intervention, ” and in exactly 16 days they will get it. I can’t wait to land in Chicago and give these employees the human relations skills they need to talk to customers with care, concern, and friendliness.
Maintain employees’ esteem when giving constructive feedback, so you protect the relationship and get behavior change
I’m sitting on my patio, with my feet up. It’s cloudy, and there’s a light breeze. Such a contrast to the oppressively hot and humid summer we’ve had
Sitting here on my patio I made a list of 50 things that I’m happy about right now. I do this exercise from time to time, whenever my mood needs lifting. Some of the things on my list are:
I got all of the wood polished.
Though Warren’s team lost, his spirit remains high.
ClearCorrect trusted me to train their team for the second time, and I’m fully prepared for the big day!
We had a fantastic getaway to Dallas, and I’m so glad Dad was able to join us.
My homemade lunch, Portobello Mushroom Burgers, and Sweet Potato Fries were amazing!
Michelle’s Dad’s cancer is gone! God is good!
My lunch yesterday with Toneille at the Vault was fantastic! The vegan food was fabulous, and I loved catching up with Toneille.
My husband is one of the coaches on our son’s football team. We got beat 43 – 0 on Saturday. The loss felt as bad as it sounds. Right now my husband is sitting in front of the computer with my son watching game film. He was pointing out everything my son did wrong.
My son’s body language and tone told me my husband was bringing him down. That’s why I’m on the patio. I had to get out of the house.
When my daughter was 4 years old McDonald’s was her favorite place to eat out. We always got her the Happy Meal with chicken McNuggets. To this day she’s still not a “burger” person.
One afternoon we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home from pre-school. I placed Lauren’s usual Happy Meal order through the drive-thru speaker.
I drove up to the first window, and the employee opened the window and waited for me to hand him my money. He took my $20 bill, gave me change and the window closed.
I drove up to the second window, it opened, and an employee handed me a small Sprite and a Happy Meal in a bag. I handed the bag and drink to my daughter in the back seat.
As we drove off, my daughter said,
“Mommy, do they talk at this McDonald’s?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The people. They didn’t talk when they took your money, and they didn’t say anything when you got the food.”
Wow. I actually hadn’t even noticed the lack of verbal communication. Me, the Customer Service Queen didn’t even notice. You know why I didn’t notice? Because rote interactions like this are so common that this felt like the norm.
But she was right. Other than the voice coming through the drive-thru speaker, there was no verbal communication.
It just so happened that 5 weeks to the day from this muted drive-thru experience, I was scheduled to deliver a keynote at Hamburger University, on the campus of the McDonald’s worldwide headquarters outside of Chicago.
I’m a storyteller. I had to tell this story to my audience of McDonald’s managers and executives. So I did. I opened my keynote with the story of “Mommy, do they talk at this McDonald’s?”
The audience was stunned. Frozen. Speechless. They may hate me for this, but they needed to hear it. I knew I’d done the right thing. Regardless of how awkward I felt on the big stage at that moment, they needed to hear this.