Customer-service phrases we hate
You're not going to keep customers happy if what you're really saying is 'I don't care.'
You’ve been there: You’re trying to check out a DVD at the video store, but the clerk is too busy on the phone -- and it’s a social call.
Could she possibly make time in her busy schedule to rent us a movie?
Bad customer service plagues all of us, so we can all relate to a post about customer-service phrases we hate to hear -- and ones we should hear more often -- at My Super-Charged Life.
But first, let’s discuss why this is so important. We all have customers we have to serve in our work lives, Jeff writes. “Every customer that is willing to give their money to you in return for your product or service is a gem that you need to protect and coddle,” he says.
That means you have to take responsibility for the customers' desires and keep them smiling. You won’t do that when you say things like these from Jeff’s list (which we’ve paired with offerings from his companion list of good CS responses):
- “The computer won’t let us do that.” That may be true, but why not say: “I’m going to personally make sure this gets resolved for you.” Now you’re talking.
- “I don’t know.” That contains the unspoken but implied “I don’t care.” Better to go with: “I’m not sure, but let me find someone who can help you.”
Other do-not-care responses include: “We can’t take care of that here” and “That is not my responsibility.”
Jeff’s post actually has 12 different “enthusiastic phrases we’d all like to hear more often.” Among them:
- “Your satisfaction is our top priority. What can I do for you today?”
- “What can I do to make this right for you?”
- “I can take care of this for you in no time at all.”
In no time, you say? If that’s your promise, we hope you can follow through.
Case in point: A store charged us the regular price for canned goods rather than the sale price. We didn’t notice until days later -- Tip: Always check your receipt at the store -- but we still had the receipt. A CS rep told us on the phone that because we didn’t catch the error on the day of the sale, we were out of luck.
We drove to the store, and the rep changed her tune -- but the entire transaction took more than a half-hour.
Jeff would likely not approve of that. He writes:
It really doesn’t take all that much effort to impress customers with our level of service. We just need to put ourselves in their shoes. Treat others like you want to be treated and your service will be golden!
Have you encountered unresponsive or otherwise bad customer service recently? Did you complain, accept your lot, or vow never to go back?
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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
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