10 things you should never say to your customersDid you know that 51% of customers switch companies due to poor service? Customer service is no longer a back-end operation. Providing great customer experience has become the new marketing technique to nurture and foster good word-of-mouth for the brand.

Everyone is striving to build a customer-centric organization, but achieving it is no child’s play. It requires meticulous planning of even the smallest details, such as the executive’s’ language and the tone of voice during customer interactions.

The intonation, the pitch of your voice, the words you choose, etc., will have a strong impact on how the customers perceive you. When training your new customer service employees, it is important to keep all these aspects in mind.

There are plenty of great examples of how to respond to online feedback and reviews, but let’s not forget that responding to customers in person or over the phone is an equally critical skill.

Here are 10 things you should never say during the conversation when presented with an infuriated customer:

  1. It’s not a practical solution

An unnecessary rude remark, which serves no purpose at all and may in fact anger the customer.

If you think the solution suggested by the customer is not practical, instead of voicing your opinion, it would be better to suggest a more feasible solution and explain to them why your suggestion is better.

Be considerate and never speak down to your customers.

  1. This is not my area of expertise, I will forward your complaint to…

Once the customer gets in touch with you, you should become the point of contact. Saying outright that you don’t know much about this undermines your company’s credibility and can lead to the customer losing trust.

If you think someone can handle this better, by all means, take their help in resolving the issue instead asking your customers themselves to reach out to that person.

Even better if you would like the to keep the customers in the loop, you can say something like ‘I can certainly help you with this, but Mr. X is the expert on this and I would like to bring him into the loop, is that okay with you?’

  1. Didn’t you read the manual?

An arrogant and insensitive thing to say. When you say this, you are either implying that you don’t have the time to assist your customer or your customer is stupid. Definitely not the way to create good customer experience.

If they call you for help, give them help. That’s simply your job. Don’t ask to them to go refer to a manual.

In fact, at my startup Hiver, we conducted an elaborate survey to understand the common areas where most of our customers face problems in understanding how to use a feature or an aspect of the app. Every time we get a new customer, we call them up and tell them that we have identified a few areas where you might need help and we walk them through it. This proactive measure has drastically cut down the number of customer queries and complaints we get.

  1. I hope we made up for your inconvenience

If you have caused inconvenience, it certainly is going to take quite a while to make up for it. Fixing something is not exactly ‘making up for it’.

In fact, it takes 12 good experiences to fix the damage caused by one bad experience.

For example, if you offer some discount coupons to a customer who was inconvenienced by a mistake you made, instead of saying that you want the coupons to make up for it, say ‘Please accept these coupons as our apology for your trouble’.

It sounds more humble and will probably have a more positive effect.

  1. Excuse me, will you let me explain?

Listening is a key skill every customer service agent must and should master. Listening requires patience. Even if the customer is whining and sulking unreasonably, you have to listen to it all patiently.

You don’t interrupt a customer when they are complaining by saying ‘Will you let me explain’ – wait till the customer is done with what he/she has to say.

  1. Calm down

Saying ‘calm down’ to an angry customer is not going to help, and in fact, will aggravate the situation even more. You can serve them better by listening attentively to what they have to say and by not taking any of it personally.

Quickly figure out what you can to ease their discomfort and get on with it. Empty words are not at all going to help the situation. After you figure out the solution to the problem, communicate clearly to the customer what steps you are going to take in order to resolve it.

Remember that it’s extremely important that you listen first to everything they have to say before you give a reply.

  1. You are the first one to complain about this

This statement would indicate that you are trying to shift the blame on to the customer; it implies that you think the customer is being unreasonable and too demanding – not a good impression to give.

Customers don’t always complain. They could have chosen to just leave you and go to your competitor; the fact that they have taken the time to complain about the problem, implies they are willing to give you a second chance.

That is a valuable opportunity and you are throwing it out the window by saying the above statement.

8.That’s against our policy

Unless you want to sound like an inflexible bureaucrat who doesn’t care about the customers’ needs, don’t use this line as a reply.

If your business has to thrive, you have to meet unmet demands – that is an unsaid but a given rule of business.

Customers are not interested in your company’s handbook of rules and policies. They just want the problem resolved and that should be your goal too. If it is something that absolutely cannot be done, offer them a discount coupon or a reward to compensate, instead saying ‘it’s against our policy’ and leaving them hanging.

68% of your customers leave you because they are not aware that you do in fact value them. Show them that they matter.

  1. You did that wrong

True, sometimes customers do complain unreasonably, sometimes it’s completely their fault and not yours at all. Even so, there is a right way to verbalize that. A blunt statement stating it’s their fault and not yours may win the argument for you, but you will certainly damage your company’s relationship with the customer.

73% of consumers say friendly customer service reps can make them fall in love with a brand. (RightNow). So, watch what you say!

Even if it is indeed the customer’s fault, you can always fix it. If you can’t, guide them to someone who can help them out. The point is: you have to fix it anyway, better to do it without blaming the customer.

  1. I will get back to you as soon as I can

This is a vague answer. It leaves your customer wondering if you do in fact have a solution to the problem; they will start doubting you and losing their trust.

Don’t ever reply with vague statements such ‘as soon as I can’. Tell them exactly when you will call them back, what steps you are going to take, and even the approach you have in mind. Take the time to guarantee them your best effort to resolve the issue.

Remember, never leave them hanging; inform them as to what to expect next or what is going on on your end.

Final thoughts

Some key things to remember here are – deal with customers with patience, modesty, and empathy.

The crux lies in the way you think. Every single customer interaction needs to be treated as an opportunity to build a brand, and not a mere problem-solving session.