Words That Can Drive Your Customers AWAY

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker, President of  Telephone Doctor

They are conversation diverters. Just as the words ALWAYS and NEVER are. Customers and friends will challenge and doubt you with those words. Killer words make your customers, and potential customers, veer away from the real point of your conversation.

So best we eliminate them from our routine and vocabulary. It’s not easy to do. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it . . . and we know everyone isn’t doing it.

Here are the top rated killer words. Remove them from your sales and customer service conversations and watch the scene (personal and business) go smoother.

  1. “No Problem.” – This is a biggie. The customer is thinking, “When was I a problem?” Believe we can thank the ‘islands’ for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what’s the first thing the waiter says when we want 4 desserts? Right, “No problem.”Well on the cruise it may be okay; however, back home it should be the GOLD STANDARD of “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” “happy to help,” and a host of other ways to let the customer know you’re glad to do that.“No problem” appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation. FYI “No Worries” is not a good substitute, either.
  2. “Our computers are so slow.” – Big excuse. Everyone’s computer runs slow occasionally. When you complain about your computer it’s perceived as though you’re complaining about your company. And perception is reality. Take the time to say, “This might take a bit longer than I’d like it to. Tell me about . . .” and then ask a benign question that will take some time and let the customer talk.
  3. “Calm Down.” – Oh man, does this one make the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show I’ve watched lately when someone is told to “calm down,” the next words are, “Don’t you tell me to calm down.” Now you’re in an argument.There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and come in at the appropriate time with sympathetic and empathetic wording. You telling a customer how to handle their actions isn’t a great idea. Get rid of the expression “calm down.”
  4. “It’s not our policy.” – Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it’s something we need to deal with daily. What is not necessary is blurting that out first and foremost to the customer. The policy should be rephrased so it starts off in a positive way. “Reject gently.” And rephrasing policies are a good way to soften the blow and explain in a more TLC way what will happen.Next time you find yourself saying, “That’s not our policy,” stop! Regroup and reword. Buffer it with, “Let me see what we can do. Normally the policy of the company doesn’t allow last minute changes; however, I’ll double check.” (The request should be restated so the customer hears you’re going to go to bat for them.) “Let me double check” are powerful words.
  5. “Yes, but…” – Hmm, what’s wrong with that? We all say it. Well, what’s wrong with that is the minute we say, “yes, but,” the client knows something negative is coming.If you have ever said, “I love you so much, but…,” usually there is a condition coming, isn’t there? Here’s one way to change that: “Yes, we can do that. There is, however, a $50 additional fee.”  Doesn’t that sound better than, “Yes but…”?

Most people have phrases and sayings they don’t like or that aggravate them. Keep a list of your killer words (along with ours) and avoid them.

Other KILLER WORDS on the list are:

•  Can I be honest with you?  (No. lie to me, please.)

•  What was your name again? (The same as it was last time. I said it 20 seconds ago.)

•  You don’t understand what I’m saying. (Then change the way you’re saying it.)

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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly