Working in customer service can be very rewarding, but it can also be very demanding. Most customer service agents must deal with angry customers daily. Customer service representatives must be able to take these unhappy people and turn them into satisfied and loyal customers. During a customer service call, this is no easy feat when a person enters the conversation angry or upset.
When someone is already upset, it is easy for problems to snowball. One wrong word from a customer service agent could mean the loss of a customer forever. However, customer service call agents cannot just placate customers; they do have problems to solve, and some issues cannot be resolved. Customer service agents should be able to walk a fine line between being stern and being friendly. All words that are exchanged over a customer service line carry weight. If you are a good customer service agent or are training agents for your business, be careful to avoid these common verbal slip-ups that may ruin a customer’s experience.
- I can’t help you with that
Sometimes a customer service call agent has to follow a specific protocol, and some things will be outside of their jurisdiction. When you realize that you cannot help the person over the phone, it is best to forward them to a more senior person on the team or management. The answer should never be that they can’t be helped.
- That’s just our policy
Telling your customers that you can’t help them is terrible, but not giving them a reason for why you can’t help them is even worse. Saying, “sorry, that’s our policy” is basically you shrugging your shoulders at them and tossing their inquiries away. It isn’t an acceptable answer to an angry or confused customer. This customer is only interested in the problem being resolved. To be that short with a customer gives the impression that your company doesn’t care about its customers.
- Unfortunately, no
No is negative; it does not matter how its phrased. Saying, unfortunately, might make you think that you are mitigating the severity of the word, no, but you are not. Do not lead with a negative when speaking to an angry customer. If you are unable to help them in the way that they want you to, use a different phrase such as, “here’s what we can do for you.”
- Interrupting a rant
If you are a customer service representative, you have probably had to sit through a rant or two in your time. The critical thing to remember when dealing with an angry customer is to let them get it all out. When they come up for air, that is when you can start talking to them. Never interrupt and never tell a customer they are unreasonable, even if they are.
I don’t know
A call center agent should always have an answer to a customer’s issues. Answering with I don’t know is unacceptable and should never be uttered by an agent. Customers call companies and speak to representatives because they want to be helped, and an incompetent agent cannot help them.
- Give me a second
A second is a vague measurement of time that should not be given on the phone. If you are looking into something for a customer, it’s better to be honest about how long they will be waiting for you to look things up.
- Actually, it’s this
Don’t even bother correcting a customer on a name or pronunciation or anything. It will be taken as condescending, and you will put the customer off or make them feel embarrassed.
- I’m sorry
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to apologize to upset customers, but it is best to avoid it if you don’t mean it. It won’t carry the same significance if you actually do not care and are just repeating this overused phrase.
- I have to put you on hold
A customer does not want to be placed on hold, and this should be avoided at all costs. However, sometimes it is unavoidable, and in those cases, you must ask the customer if it is okay that you put them on hold and be sure to explain your reasons for doing so.
- I don’t see your account information here
Never announce this to the person that you are helping on the other line. More than likely you are missing their name in the database or you input the wrong information. Humans make errors, and you should never assume that the customer called you by mistake. It certainly happens, but until you’ve exhausted every possible way to find their information, they do not need to hear this phrase uttered.
Related: 23 Incredible Customer Service Tips