Transform Your Customer Service with These Winning Phrases
The language we use can make or break a customer experience. Customer service phrases are more than just words; they are the building blocks of a great customer service experience. In this article, I will discuss the key elements of effective customer service verbiage and share some winning phrases to use in customer service.
Why the Right Customer Service Tone Matters
The tone of your customer service communication is crucial in building a positive relationship with your customers. A friendly and welcoming tone can help put a customer at ease and make them more receptive to your assistance. On the other hand, an uninterested or hostile tone can leave a customer feeling frustrated and undervalued.
When communicating with customers, it is important to use a tone that conveys empathy, understanding, and a willingness to help. A positive tone can help to diffuse a difficult situation, while a negative tone can make things worse.
Key Elements of Effective Customer Service Verbiage
Effective customer service verbiage is more than just using the right phrases. It involves creating a conversation that is clear, concise, and helpful. When communicating with customers, it is important to:
- Understand that your objective is not to prove your customer wrong, but to support and offer options.
- Listen with the intent to understand: Most people listen with the intent to reply. Focus on listening to understand your customer.
- Speak assertively: My definition of assertive is: Say what you mean. Mean what you say, and don’t be mean when you say it.
- Use clear language: Avoid using technical jargon or industry terms that may confuse your customer.
- Deliver your message like you’d say it to your grandmother. Seriously. This final key needs some explanation.
A deeper look into the final element of effective customer service verbiage: Would you say it like that to your grandmother?
Jeffrey Gitomer offers a self-test in his book Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless /to help us determine when we're not applying emotional intelligence to interactions. Gitomer calls his test the "Grandma" secret.
When you speak to your customer, imagine saying, "Grandma." I know this sounds a little silly, but hear me out.
If what you say to your customer would sound appropriate if you were talking to a respected elder, then you're using a tone and approach laced with empathy. Let me show you.
"Your flight was canceled, Grandma."
Would you deliver bad news to your grandmother this casually?
Or, would you tie that up with empathy?
"We have a mechanical issue with your aircraft, making travel unsafe, and we've had to cancel this flight. We have two options for getting you to Tulsa, Grandma."
The tone and words you’d use with a beloved elder is what we’re going for here.
Positive Words and Phrases to Use in Customer Service
Using positive language can help to build a positive relationship with your customers. Here are some examples of positive phrases to use in customer service:
- "I'm happy to help with that."
- "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We appreciate customers who let us know when things aren’t right.”
- “We want to get to the bottom of this as much as you do.”
- “Of course!”
- “For sure!”
- "I appreciate your patience while we work to resolve this issue."
- "Is there anything else I can assist you with today?”
- “It’s my pleasure to help.”
Empathetic Phrases to Use in Customer Service
Empathy is a key component of effective customer service. Using empathetic language can help to show your customers that you understand their frustration and are working to find a solution. Here are some examples of empathetic phrases to use in customer service:
- "I realize how frustrating this must be for you."
- “I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.”
- “I can see your point on that.”
- "I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes."
- “I can’t imagine what that was like for you.”
- “I don’t know what to say, but I am sorry.”
Problem-Solving Phrases to Use in Customer Service
When a customer comes to you with a problem, it is important to provide them with concrete solutions. Here are some examples of problem-solving phrases to use in customer service:
- "Let's take a look at your account and see what we can do to resolve this."
- "I can offer you a refund or exchange for your purchase."
- "I will escalate this issue to our technical team and follow up with you as soon as possible."
- "I will open a claim. The first thing you’ll need to do, after I assign your claim number, is upload photos of the damage using the link I’ll send you after this call.”
Phrases and Words to Avoid in Customer Service
While positive and empathetic language can help to build a positive relationship with your customers, there are certain phrases that should be avoided. Here are some examples of phrases to avoid in customer service:
Avoid phrases communicating compliance requirements: “Have to,” “Supposed to,” “Need to,” “It’s against FDA regulations.”
You can communicate policy and guidelines, just be positive. Rather than, “We don’t refill contact lens prescriptions without an office visit every twelve months,” Try instead: “For the health of your eye, we issue contact lens prescriptions after an optometrist has seen you once every 12 months.”
It might surprise you to know I don’t want customer service specialists to apologize to customers.
Before you respond, let me say that I see apologizing and saying “I’m sorry” as two different things.
Saying I’m sorry is an expression of empathy and concern. “I’m sorry you’ve had such a frustrating time,” is a good example of conveying concern and empathy. The words, “I apologize” are an outright admission of fault or guilt. Unless you want to own the issue this precisely, it’s best to say some form of “I’m sorry.”
I can't do that.
Certainly, there are things you simply cannot do. But, we both know there’s a better way to handle such conversations. Rather than, “We can’t cover your cellphone damage because the benefit is no active,” how about, “Myra, what we can do is send you a link to our current list of credit card benefits. This will explain our most up-to-date offerings, as benefits are always subject to change without notice.”
I don't know.
For sure, there will be times when you don’t have the answer. But try instead: “The best way to get help with this is to speak with our Reservations Team. Do you mind if I place you on hold/transfer you?”
Last week I had a customer support representative say to me, “I hate tell you that XYZ Credit Card Company misled you.” The employee’s words were unprofessional at best. It incites pushback and escalation. He could have said, “I’m sorry for any misunderstanding this has caused you. Our current information shows that your credit card company no longer offers the cellphone protection benefit. The protection coverage ended December 31, 2022.”
Using negative language can make a customer feel undervalued and frustrated. Instead, focus on creating rapport, finding solutions and providing helpful information.
Examples of Customer Service Conversations Using Winning Phrases
Here are some examples of customer service conversations using winning phrases:
Customer: I'm having trouble logging into my account.
Representative: I'm sorry to hear that. Let me take a look at your account and see if I can help you log in. Can you please provide me with your email address so I can look at your account?
Customer: I received a defective product.
Representative: I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you. I need to ask you some questions to get started. Can you please provide me with your order number?
Customer: I'm having trouble setting up my new device.
Representative: I know how frustrating this can be. Let's work together to troubleshoot the issue. Can you please provide me with the model number of your device?
Implementing Winning Phrases in Your Customer Service Strategy
Now that you have learned some winning phrases to use in customer service, it is important to implement them into your customer service strategy. Here are some tips for incorporating winning phrases into your customer service communication:
- Train your customer service representatives: Provide training sessions that focus on effective communication and problem-solving skills.
- Provide scripts: Provide your representatives with scripts that include winning phrases to use in various customer service scenarios.
- Monitor customer service interactions: Monitor customer service interactions to ensure that your representatives are using winning phrases and providing solutions to customer problems.
Effective customer service verbiage is crucial in building a positive relationship with your customers. By using positive, empathetic, and problem-solving language, you can create a conversation that is helpful and informative. Incorporating winning phrases into your customer service strategy can help to improve customer satisfaction and build a loyal customer base. Remember to listen actively, use clear language, be concise, and provide solutions to your customer's problems.
Continue the Conversation with Me?
For more help with winning phrases for customer service, meet me in my Customer Service Master Class! Customer Service Master Class is the only training of its kind that not only prepares your employees to support customers with friendliness, empathy, and concern (over the phone, email, chat, and face-to-face) - but how to deliver bad news and de-escalate.
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