If you work in customer service, then you know that words are incredibly powerful.
According to psychologists Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, words are so powerful, in fact, that even just the sight of a negative word like “no” can release dozens of stress-producing hormones in your brain.
But the right words also have the power to create happy, life-long customers.
Using positive phrases can enhance customer engagement, and luckily for you, all you have to do is remember several simple rules and commit to positive customer service phrases.
Establish a Good Rapport
Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results. — Willie Nelson
Helping a customer should start from a sincere and positive place. The aim is to be open and receptive to customers’ pain points, so your positive phrasing will come out organically.
If you focus on starting from a place of understanding, the rest will follow naturally.
So remember: introduce yourself and ask for the customer’s name. Then ask how you can be of service without assuming that there is a problem to begin with. You want to start from a positive place and move the conversation forward with solution-building language.
“Hi, my name is X. May I ask your name?”
“Great to meet you, Y. How can I assist you today?”
“How can I help you?”
“What can I help you with today?”
“What is wrong?”
“Are you unsatisfied?”
“Are you confused?”
“What’s your problem?”
Remember, if a customer says something nice about your company, respond positively to the compliment!
Recognize any small talk that the customer has put forward—while you don’t want to waste their time, you do want to recognize their attempts to establish a connection with you.
Repeat after Them
When you rephrase a customer’s comment or complaint, you do two important things:
1) you make them feel heard and understood
2) you clarify what was said so that you don’t make any mistakes.
This is especially important because many customers aren’t used to typing out their complaints via chat, so their communication may be rushed or confusing.
However this technique does have to be used carefully—never retype what a customer has said word for word. That would be very frustrating and could potentially offend a customer. Instead, summarize what they have said efficiently.
For example, if a customer says something vague like:“I want to receive my package. Can you make it get here faster?”
Try responding with:
“I am sorry if you are having trouble with your package. Just to clarify, are you experiencing a delay?”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying that your package should have arrived by now?”
These answers are helpful because the customer’s original statement was vague. By summarizing a customer’s statement, you also have the chance to clarify your interpretation.
Do not respond with:
“So what I’m hearing is that there is a problem with the shipping.”
“Are you saying that we failed to deliver on time?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.”
“No, I cannot make the package come faster. That’s not my job.”
Pepper with positive words
Positive phrases are built from positive words. If you focus on using an affirming and energetic vocabulary, you will find that your great attitude may actually be very infectious.
Use positive, affirmative words to describe:
Here is how you can start phrases with these positive words:
“I completely understand…”
“I do know where you are coming from…”
“I assure you, we will…”
“I’m so glad to be of help…”
Eliminate Negative words
Positive words are part of the positive phrase puzzle, but avoiding negative words can be equally important. Sometimes if you use negative words even with good intentions, you can come off as patronizing, or as if you pity the customer.
Consider how you would feel if someone said the following to you:
“That sucks so badly.”
“You don’t deserve that!”
“That is terrible!”
“We are sorry for giving you bad service!”
“It must be awful to be you right now.”
It may be a little too easy to make this kind of mistake. You want to be empathetic, and that’s a good. But when you use negative words you encourage a feeling of helplessness.
Remember, you are there to be friendly, not a friend. Empathetic friends go out to drink with you and wallow in your misery when they can’t change your situation. Empathetic customer support representative are friendly, but they have answers and solutions.
Avoid intensely negative words like:
No (if it can be avoided, sometimes it can’t)
Sometimes customers ask for something you can’t give them. For example, they may ask for a refund after several months, which exceeds your company’s two week refund policy. So what are you to do? Here are some positive phrases to help you out:
“I would love to help, but…”
“Unfortunately, that’s not our policy.”
“While I can’t offer you X, I can implement Y.”
Using soft words like “unfortunately” and “but” can help you lead the conversation to a more positive direction. Suggest or recommend other resources or options. For example, just because you can’t refund someone doesn’t mean you can’t give them store credit. Never let a customer leave before knowing all of their options.
We’ve all had the experience when we run into a question we don’t know the answer to, or we’ve encountered a point in the conversation where we’re unsure of what to say next.
Generally this happens when we lack certain information, or the customer is very anxious or upset and catches us off guard. Use the following phrases to communicate that you have it all under control, even when things feel a little shaky:
To assuage or calm a customer:
“Rest assured that this will be…“
“I assure you…”
“I understand where you’re coming from.”
To prevent doubt when you don’t know:
“One moment please.”
“Let me find that out for you.”
“Let me forward you to our X specialist.”
To express professionalism:
“Thank you for bringing that to our consideration.”
“We’re very happy to…”
“On behalf of our company, I would like to say thank you for your patience.”
Remember, you may not know everything, but you know more than the customer does. It’s your job, so take pride in your role and use the right words and phrases to communicate your confident attitude.
Creating positive phrases is as much about the attitude as it is about the exact words and rules you follow. Remember the information above, but don’t ever forget the feeling you want to convey and the solutions you want to provide. Positive phrasing will create happy customers who are motivated to support your company and continue to recommend you for years to come.
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