Yes, The Words We Say Do Affect Customers
Posted by Becky Carroll on January 17, 2007
One of the unspoken tenets of customer service is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Then why is it that customer service personnel use words that they would never want used on them? I don’t mean nasty language (although there are instances of that). I am talking about meaningless phrases.
We use them everyday. When we walk down the hall and see a colleague, we say, “Hi, how are you?”, but how many of us really wait around to listen to the answer? Glenn Ross over at AllBusiness.com got me thinking about words in his post on the subject. Here are some phrases found from the UK website Plain English Campaign which are considered cliches over there (thanks to ManagerTools for this link from the comments):
Customer service, especially the contact center, has its own set of over-used phrases. I have included a few here to get started:
- We value your business
- Your business is important to us
- How are you doing today?
- I understand your concern
- Thank you for your feedback
- For faster service, go to our website at…
- Due to a large call volume
- Customers are our business
- I will need to transfer you
Many of these phrases are examples of poor customer service scripts. Unfortunately, when customers hear these types of phrases, they begin to question the sincerity of the customer service representative. Trust may also be affected, especially if a customer has a problem to resolve, if this is a repeat call, or if the customer has been transferred multiple times. “If my business was really important to you, you wouldn’t treat me like this!”
A great attitude and kindness on the part of the Customer Service Rep can help bad-scripting situations. See Doug Karr’s recent post on his problems with AT&T to get a real-world example of a loyal customer trying to make his way through the system. Even though he was frustrated, he was able to see that the agents themselves were friendly. Agent/customer service rep friendliness can help some situations, but not all!
Three Tips for Improvement
CustomersRock! companies understand that every interaction with a customer impacts not only customer satisfaction but the brand as well. Here are three tips for companies when planning how to interact with customers.
1. Review your scripts for all customer touch points. Look for key phrases that are overused or can be irritating to customers and replace them with something customer-friendly.
2. Train agents not to repeat phrases that are on a script if the phrase doesn’t make sense in a given situation. This requires agents that can think on their feet!
3. Make sure your most valuable customers are treated with special care. Flag them as they come in so they can be recognized appropriately in conversation by the agent.
Finally, be honest and speak from the heart. Customers can always hear truth.