Phrases Never To Use With Customers or Employees

‘I Don’t Know’  (Customer) – As honest as this answer is, if this is all you give a customer, you can pretty much kiss them goodbye.  You really may not know the answer, but find out instead of shutting them down with ‘I don’t know’.  Showing interest in your customers’ needs is not only common sense, but ensures they’ll stay loyal to your business.

‘I Don’t Have Time Right Now’ (Employee) – Are you really going to brush off an employee — someone who is working in your business so that you can work on your business — because YOU don’t have time?!  Truth is, this actually happens.  Time gets away from all of us.  We’re in a hurry to get somewhere or meet someone and all of a sudden something comes up with an employee of ours.  Instead of quickly dismissing them, ask them to send an email or leave a brief note of what their concern or issue is and let them know we’ll give it our attention as soon as we can.   Unless it’s urgent, handle it then and there.

Can You Give Me A Call Back Later?’  (Customer) – Never, EVER ask a customer or client to call you back later.  It takes them the same amount of time and energy to call your competitors as it does to call you back.  Instead, briefly ask what they’re looking for, what they need, take down their name, number and when would it be best to RETURN their call.  Show them you’re making every effort to get and keep their business. No customer wants or will work to give you their business, so don’t make them.

‘Just Handle It!’ (Employee) – This sits right up there with ‘I don’t have time right now’.  This is hardly ever said with great confidence or endearment.  And more than anything, it leaves your employees feeling as if you’re setting them up to fail.  You’re either too busy or can’t be bothered and now an issue — whatever it is– becomes their responsibility.  And what if they can’t?  What if the reason they’re bringing this concern to your attention is because it needs your authorization?  Do you still want them to ‘handle it’? Instead, ask them what the issue is, if it’s something that needs immediate attention and decide whether it’s something they can and should handle on their own.

Oh, I Don’t Handle Those Kinds Questions/Problems/ Areas, Etc’ (Customer) – Stop bringing attention to all the things you CAN’T do or that’s outside your scope.  Politely let the customer know that’s something you don’t do — whatever the request is– but, then offer to help them find someone who can.  Become a reference, someone people turn to find answers, even when they themselves don’t have the answer.  That too can build a customer base within itself.

‘Don’t You Understand?!’ (Employee)Do you understand?‘ conveys a more cordial way of asking if your employee(s) have grasped a method, procedure or explanation.  Saying ‘don’t’ rather than ‘do’ belittles them and drives a wedge between the employer-employee relationship (which we all know is the bee’s knees!).  Keep in mind, pissed off employees don’t work well and are always working towards finding a better employment environment.  Don’t drive away your employees by talking down to them.

As logical as most of this sounds, a lot of this still happens in the workplace and in many customer service departments in many businesses.  And just because it seems like the norm, doesn’t mean it’s right.  Sometimes our first impressions are simply words.  And our words can ignite feelings of resentment and hostility.  We have to be careful of what we say and how we say it.

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