Discover how subtle language, or trigger phrases, can quickly get you into trouble with customers. Plus, hear what positive language you can use to set the right tone for a winning conversation.
- When I facilitate training on handling difficult customers, I like to hear actual interactions between employees and customers so I can pinpoint precisely how I can help. Recently, I listened to a random sample of calls for a client ahead of training. I noticed some of the employees used language that opens the door for escalations. I heard things like, that would be something you'd have to speak to your local provider about. I have no way of knowing this information. So, we're just the lab. We don't work directly with patients. My supervisor would just tell you the same thing that I'm telling you. Now, the negativity in these words is unintentional, I'm sure of that, but when customers hear statements like these, that is precisely the point when I hear things escalate. The customer escalates because the language created a barrier in their mind, and the only way around this barrier is to push back. So what can you do? Work to keep interactions positive, even when you're giving bad news, by offering explanations or options. Let's look some potentially provoking statements, and I'll show you how to say the same thing, only more positively, by giving an explanation or an option. Instead of there's nothing we can do, say something like, one thing we can try is. Even if there's no guarantee that the option will work, customers tend to calm down when they sense a real effort on your part. Rather than, that's something you need to speak to the local provider about, how about an explanation? Any specific details on your treatment will come directly from your dentist. We don't have access to your medical records. In a line at a store, I heard an employee say, "I was only able to charge $2.19 to your card, "but it declined for the remaining $72.88." It was uncomfortable for the customer. It would've been more positive to discreetly say, I'm having trouble authorizing your card. Is there another card you'd like to use? When you communicate with more diplomacy and tact, you reduce customer frustration, preempt escalations, and interactions go more smoothly. So always look for a positive slant when giving bad news.