Everyone has been either the customer, or the one providing the customer service. I am in a unique position where I get to be on both sides of the equation every day. It’s called the channel, and it’s the go between in business between end customers, (users of the product) and manufacturers, (the one’s making it).
Being on both sides I get to hear all of the worst customer service statements and excuses imaginable, while then politely rephrasing the information for the end customers. If you ever find yourself in any form of customer service position, even for a day, here are some of the most common statements to stay away from-if you like happy customers. If you want to make people angry, use the initial statements liberally instead of the revised versions.
I included what the customer generally interprets the statement as, and a possible solution to convey the same information but, re-framed positively.
If you are in customer service, do a great job and provide actual service. If you don’t, you’re expendable. Skill up or get out.
Heard as: I shouldn’t have any responsibility. I was hired for a job but never taught how to do it or, I never paid attention in my training. I don’t care about my work and you should find someone more competent to help you.
Pay attention in any training you’re given, ask questions if you don’t know something. Take the responsibility of a professional and you’ll be treated like one.
Revised idea: I haven’t come across this situation before however, I WILL get this resolved for you, thank you for bringing this to my attention. Figure it out or get your senior counterpart to help take care of your customer.
“I don’t know”
Heard as: There may be answers but, I don’t take the time to find them or to learn them. I don’t really care about you. I don’t care about my job. Whatever.
Don’t leave someone with a negative resolution. If you don’t know then go find out or find someone who does know.
Revised idea: Tell them you’re going to do whatever you can to track down the answer. Then you’ll bring them either the right answer or, the information for next place they need to contact. If you can handle that initial contact do it and pass off the call or email to the customer for them.
“That’s not my department or job”
Heard as: I have no responsibility in life and couldn’t care less about your problems. I’m lazy. Who are you and why are you talking to me?
Another negative resolution. It may not be your job but you can still help.
Revised idea: That’s a great question, and I think it’s handled by ___. I will get you connected with the person or department that will help get this resolved right away. Then make sure they feel you’ve taken them to the right place.
“Can’t you just try again?”
Heard as: I think you’re too stupid to understand what you’re doing. Maybe you tried but you obviously didn’t try the right way, my way. Prove to me that you really have a problem before I take the time to consider helping you with it.
This is one of the most negative responses I come across. Nothing shows disrespect like complete disregard for a customer trying to get their problem solved and, the effort they’ve put into it.
Revised idea: I’m really sorry that hasn’t worked for you, sometimes the process isn’t communicated to our customers very well. Can you please walk me through the exact steps you took, just to make sure we gave you the right information? If everything was correct then I’ll have this escalated immediately for you so we can get you taken care of as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
“I can’t do that or we don’t do that”
Heard as: I or we don’t try. We only put effort into what’s guaranteed to work and we don’t go out of our way for our customers.
Maybe you can’t do something, it happens. There are better ways to answer customers, have some tact. Care a little.
Revised idea: I’m not sure if that’s something we do however, I haven’t asked about it recently. I’ll go check right now for you and see what we can do for you, just keep in mind it may be something beyond our current capabilities.
The re-emphasized point: “Listen, what I’m telling you…”
Heard as: You didn’t hear a thing I said, and I don’t care about your circumstances. My only concern is forcing you to accept the facts as I see them, whether or not they are accurate.
This is by far the most disrespectful statement I come across with the exception of people who rudely slam a phone or door on you. Listening skills and empathy, get them.
Revised idea: My apologies, I don’t think I explained it very well and that’s my mistake. What I’m trying to convey is (same point completely reworded from a different angle), does that make sense and if so does it help resolve the problem or, should we keep working on this?
These are all very simple to deploy in either work or the home. They will take some practice to be able to use naturally without sounding like you’re trying to remember a bad script. Tailor them to your endeavors, polish them, memorize them, and improve your life and career.