Communicate in clear language to help customers avoid inappropriate expectations. Understand how customers typically interpret communication when it is unclear. For example, if you tell a customer an item will be delivered in two to four days, they will often expect the item to arrive in two days. This could lead to disappointment if the item arrives within three or four days, even though this is within the normal timeframe. Identify situations where you can apply these skills with your customers.
- In this video I'm going to show you how to use clear language to help your customers avoid unpleasant surprises. Customer service employees often set expectations about what will happen next. How long will it take for an order to arrive? How long will it take to solve the problem? Or will the boss be willing to make an exception to a policy? In these situations, customers tend to hear the best-case scenario if we aren't specific and clear. Here are a few examples. If you say, "Your order will be delivered "in five to seven days." Customers tend to hear five days even if the order might not be delivered until day seven.
If you say, "I'll get right back to you." Customers might think you might get back to them in a few minutes even if you really meant a few hours. And if you say, "I'll check with my boss "and see if she can make an exception." The customer will probably believe that the exception will happen even if it's really unlikely. We can help our customers avoid getting their hopes too high by using specific and clear language in these situations. Whenever possible, try to get the customer to agree to the worst case scenario.
Instead of saying, "Your order will arrive "in five to seven days." Say, "Your order will take up to seven days to arrive." If the order arrives on day seven, everything's okay. And if it takes five or six days, then you did better than expected. A key to making this work is customer agreement. If seven days is too long, you can discuss other options such as express shipping. Most of the time, customers will be okay with the worst case scenario as long as you tell them upfront.
Let's look at a few more examples. Instead of saying, "I'll get right back to you." Give a specific deadline by saying, "I'll get back to you by 5:00 p.m. today." Or whenever you think you might be able to respond. The trick is to give yourself a little wiggle room. You might think it will take an hour to solve the problem, but other things might come up along the way. It's better to give yourself a little extra time just in case. Here's one more example. Instead of saying, "I'll check with my boss "and see if she can make an exception." Say, "The answer is probably no, but I'll check "with my boss to be sure." You don't want to get your customers' hopes up that something will happen, especially if you know it probably won't.
What you can do is refocus the customer on finding a solution by saying, "Just in case my boss says no, "let's look at some other options." Okay, these are just a few common examples. Now it's your turn to identify some situations where you can use this technique. I encourage you to download the expectation management situations worksheet to identify some situations where you can use clear language to help your customers avoid unpleasant surprises.