The customer is always right, so the old saying goes. There is probably a long and lively debate to be had about whether this sentiment is entirely true, but there’s no doubt that every business should be doing as much as it can to achieve the highest standards of customer experience and keep people coming back.
How you speak to your clients is a fundamental part of this. With that in mind, here are seven statements you should never utter when dealing with valued clients.
1. ‘I don’t know’
No business or person is omniscient. Inevitably, there will be times when a client asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer, or at least can’t be entirely sure about.
However, there’s always a more positive and constructive solution than simply saying, ‘I don’t know.’ Something like, ‘I can find out for you’ is certainly preferable, as it reassures the customer that you’re keen to help and want to answer their questions as quickly as possible.
2. ‘That’s not my job’
Someone who shirks responsibility and is more interested in passing the buck than helping to resolve an issue reflects badly on the business as a whole.
If a client does approach you with a question or a request that doesn’t fall under your area of expertise, do everything you can to help them, and if they need further assistance, make sure you put them in touch with someone who can provide better support.
3. ‘Don’t worry about it’
Telling anyone - whether it’s a customer, a colleague, or even a friend or family member - not to worry about something they’re clearly concerned about is very ineffective.
It’s dismissive of their concerns and could make them feel like they’re creating problems. Moreover, it does nothing to address the core issue and reassure them that you can help with the points they’ve raised.
Acknowledge the person’s worries and look for a solution that will put their mind at ease.
4. ‘I don’t have time’
Nothing makes a client feel less valued than a representative of a business saying they don’t have time to help them.
Busy people will often find themselves in situations where time is short and they’re facing a host of demands, but once again it’s vital to handle all enquiries or complaints in a constructive way.
See if any of your colleagues are available to help, or at the very least make it clear that you want to assist and will do so as soon as you can.
5. ‘It wasn’t my fault’
Every employee is a representative of the business that employs them. If someone says, ‘It wasn’t my fault’ when a client complains or criticizes the service, it suggests that person is more interested in covering their own back than representing the company or offering a solution to the problem.
When faced with a difficult or negative comment, be gracious, professional and diplomatic, and try to start a conversation about how the issue can be resolved.
6. ‘You’re confused’
Telling someone they’re confused or ‘don’t seem to understand’ is another counterproductive approach that will only inflame the situation and make the client even more agitated.
Seeing as this is your line of work, there’ll be many times when you’re better informed than the person at the other end of the line and have to explain why they’re mistaken about something. Doing it in a tactful, respectful way is essential to ensure the client doesn’t feel patronized and wants to continue dealing with you in future.
7. ‘No-one else has complained’
In most instances, a client won’t care whether or not other people have experienced the same issue and come forward to complain. At the end of the day, this individual has felt the need to raise a grievance with you, and however unusual or unjustified the complaint might seem at first, it should be handled with diplomacy and professionalism.
You might find that a unique complaint highlights an issue you hadn’t previously considered, providing an opportunity to improve your business and the overall customer experience.