Customer service is certainly not for the skittish or any scaredy-cats out there. After all, you’re often exposed to situations in which unhappy clients are seeking a quick and pleasant resolution to the issue they’re facing. If you take the wrong approach or something you say is received in a negative light, it could quickly spiral into a pretty ugly conversation.
No one wants an angry customer. A call center agent must choose their words carefully in order to have a positive, mutually beneficial outcome.
So, what words should be avoided? Here are several things a customer should never hear from a professional call center rep.
Phrases to Steer Clear Of
#1. “That’s not something I can help you with.”
Clients are calling the support line for one reason: to solve a problem they’re experiencing. Telling a customer there’s nothing you can do, completely defeats the purpose of the call.
And make no mistake, they’ll be thoroughly disgruntled about wasting their time phoning in. Customer service agents must always provide some kind of assistance, even if that simply means actively listening to the client’s concerns.
Let’s say a customer dials in and asks a technical question. If the technical space is not the agent’s scope of expertise, they can simply recommend another individual within the company who would be willing and able to help solve the problem at hand.
#2. “Calm down”
No one likes to be told to “calm down.” Seriously, it only serves to make the other person’s blood boil even more. If a caller has resorted to shouting, it’s most likely because they feel powerless and like their voice is not being heard.
Barking an order is only going to add fuel to the fire. A better approach would be to say, “I’d be happy to help solve this problem for you if we can discuss it calmly.”
The use of empathy is also an effective way to soothe an angry customer. Give them the space to vent their frustrations before speaking up to provide a solution. This will require the agent to find their inner zen and reply in a calm manner. Should a customer become irate to the point of using offensive language or begin making threats, it’s okay to clearly state if their behavior continues, the call will be terminated.
#3. “I don’t know”
As a call center agent, it’s imperative to understand that the phrase “I don’t know” is a serious no-no. Just erase it from your vocabulary altogether. Why?
Because it insinuates that the service agent is lacking the proper knowledge, which not only looks bad for them as an individual, but reflects badly on the company the agent is representing.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to receiving adequate training. Each customer service rep should be trained to handle virtually every question thrown their way. If this situation does arise, a better way to respond is by saying, “Let me find out the answer for you.”
While it may not be the client’s first choice of responses, it communicates that the agent is prepared and willing to do what is necessary to help find a solution.
#4. “I’ll just put you on hold.”
Say hello to one of the most disliked phrases in the customer service world. Sure, everyone has to put a customer on hold from time to time. But, in order to keep them from rolling their eyes at you from the other side of the phone, you should first clearly explain why they’re being put on hold and approximately how long you expect to leave them listening to elevator music.
An example of an alternate phrase would be to say, “In order to [insert task], I’ll need to place you on a brief hold. I’ll be two or three minutes at the most, so thank you in advance for your patience in waiting and I’ll get this resolved for you shortly.”
#5. “That’s our policy.”
Throwing the company’s “policy” into the mix is like saying, “I can’t do anything for you - take it or leave it.” Ouch. This type of statement closes off the conversation when the point of customer service is to open up the dialogue so both parties can see eye to eye. Instead, call center agents need to be resourceful, always thinking of practical ways to assist a client beyond a company’s rules and regulations.
#6. “Let me try to do that.”
Yes, and let me try and play kickball with my eyes closed. Bottom line: a customer doesn’t care about your effort, they only want results.
The word “trying,” conveys a sense of uncertainty, and if the customer doesn’t trust in your abilities, it’ll hurt your relationship with them in the long run. Service agents should instead tell a client what they are going to do.
For example, if a customer asks for expedited delivery, the agent may respond by saying, “I’ll give our distributor a call and get the best schedule possible for you.”
In today’s high-tech world, consumers expect high-quality call center customer service from each and every single company they work with. Not only have they set their expectations incredibly high, but they’ll be quick to communicate their frustrations if their problem is not dealt with in a timely and respectful manner.
All call center reps should be trained to avoid using the above statements. Once they’ve nailed how to communicate effectively with clients, they will be pros at resolving any customer issue that comes their way.