Is it true that "The customer is always right?" Of course not! But even if your customers are wrong in practice, your attitude towards them and the respect you treat them with shouldn't change.
All business owners know that the customer is your bread and butter. While it's not possible to keep everyone pleased, all the time, here are 12 things you should absolutely never say to your customers.
"That's against our policy."
Maybe it is, but customers aren't interested in your policy. They're interested in how their situation can be resolved to their satisfaction. Rather than saying their request is against policy, offer what you can do to solve the problem.
ProTip: On how to address or approach an angry/upset/displeased customer, Maptive CEO Brad Crisp gives this advice:
"Dealing with angry customers is all about retention/conversion through relationship building. I recommend following these steps: (1) own the issue (take responsibility and apologize); (2) embrace that there is opportunity in difficult situations to build a relationship; (3) propose solutions and overwhelm their anger with your kindness; (4) offer free stuff if necessary; (5) follow up to make sure you made them happy."
"Let me try to do that..."
Try? That sounds like your customers may not get their issues resolved, and demonstrates a lack of self-confidence on your part. If you need to ask someone else, or get approval, simply say that you're doing that. Don't sound unsure about whether or not you can help the customer--be sure you can!
"I'll get back to you as soon as I can."
If you think about this from a customer perspective, it's easy to see why this is frustrating, as it leaves customers wondering what "soon" means--today? Tomorrow? A week from now? Be as specific as you can about your follow-up. If you don't know when the issue will be resolved, offer a call on a specific date to give an update on the situation.
ProTip: On how to address or approach an angry/upset/displeased customer, Groove Founder/CEO Alex Turnbull gives this advice:
"Much of the time, the number one thing the customer is looking for is an apology. Always start with sorry, and mean it. Even if you're not at fault, you can still empathize and feel sorry for the way the situation is making the customer feel."
"What you should do is..."
People generally resent being told what to do. If they called you, they want YOU to fix it--not to tell them to fix it. Do everything you can and then offer customers specific follow up steps to resolve their issues.
ProTip: On how to address or approach an angry/upset/displeased customer, When I Work CEO & Founder Chad Halvorson gives this advice:
"I've found the best approach to helping an upset customer is to stay calm and and be as helpful as possible. Maintain control of the conversation, set clear expectations and always be working towards a solution."
"Are you sure?"
Customers can be wrong, but service representatives shouldn't point it out. It's tempting to do so--especially if you feel the customer is being silly or making an issue out of nothing. But doing so discounts their feelings and makes them feel foolish, which may escalate the situation. Calmly help them with their issue and move forward--no matter how much you'd like to do otherwise.
ProTip: On how to address or approach an angry/upset/displeased customer, Vero CEO & Co-Founder Chris Hexton gives this advice:
"Treat them with respect. There is nothing worse than brushing a customer's opinion aside or acting like you know everything: your customers are the those whose pain you're solving--listen to them!"
"I'm not sure, but I think..."
You won't know the answer to every situation, but you shouldn't tell the customer that. You also shouldn't give customers an answer you're unsure of, as doing so might lead them in the wrong direction. Instead, let them know you'll look up some information and either put them on hold or offer to call them back in a few minutes.
"That's not so bad..."
If your customers are upset with something, you want to empathize as much as possible. The issue you're hearing about may not be major to you, but it is to them--and that's what matters. Be careful not to make any statement that downplays the customer's feelings or frustration over the situation.
ProTip: On how to address or approach an angry/upset/displeased customer, Autosend Co-Founder Ashli Norton gives this advice:
"Answer quickly and completely. There's nothing worse than partially helping a displeased days after they need you. You'll not only make them more upset but they'll have enough time to hunt down your competitors and share their experience with others online."
"Listen to me..."
Angry customers rarely listen. However, ordering them to be quiet and listen will come across as condescending and make the situation worse. Allow the customer to vent their feelings and empathize with them before offering a solution.
"I will let them know."
Even if you agree with the customer's frustration, you never want to call the company you work for "them." To the customer, you are the company, so be careful to say "we" when referring to your employer. If you don't, you'll lose credibility and risk coming across as avoiding responsibility.
"You shouldn't have done that."
While it's true that the customer shouldn't have thrown away the bill, disregarded the company's email message, or made some other mistake, telling them won't change the situation. It will, however, make the customer feel angry and embarrassed. Focus on the situation as it is and offer the best solution you have.
ProTip: On how to address or approach an angry/upset/displeased customer, Filament Director of Products Jason Amunwa gives this advice:
"Sound like a human being, talking to them face-to-face. Say "I", instead of "We", "Sorry" instead of "apologize" and never, ever say "inconvenience!""
This one phrase elicits more anger than nearly any other. Yes, customers may need to calm down in order to effect a solution, but telling them so will only make them more irate. Instead, let the customer vent, showing empathy with phrases like "I see," and "I understand." Eventually, they'll calm down on their own, allowing you to move forward.
"You don't want that, you want this..."
Offering alternate solutions or products may seem perfectly reasonable, but phrasing it like this tells customers that you think they're foolish. Instead, say something like, "Yes, that's a great option, but let me tell you about an even better one..." If they doubt the quality or usefulness of your solution, focus on the positive benefits they can gain from continuing their relationship with your company.
ProTip: On how to address or approach an angry/upset/displeased customer, Help Scout Content Strategist Gregory Ciotti gives this advice:
"The CARP method is incredibly useful: control of the situation, acknowledge that you understand your customer's concerns, refocus away from the customer's emotions to the solution at hand, outlining how you'll take care of it. Finally, solve the problem, confirming that everything has been resolved to the customer's satisfaction."
In the case of customer service, MANY things are better left unsaid. Hiding your own frustration or confusion can be difficult, but it's very important in terms of creating and maintaining a growing business and happy customers. Avoiding these 12 phrases won't eliminate your customer service issues entirely, but they will prevent a lot of needless frustrations.
What's the worst phrase you've heard from a company? Share your experiences in the comments below!