Things NOT to Say to a Customer

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote/Workshop Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

It shouldn’t matter what industry; there simply are things that should NOT – OK, NEVER, be said to customers.

I received this email from a LinkedIn friend (@Joan Lerch) about an exasperating answer to a statement she recently experienced. She joins the long list of what not to say to a customer. Read her short, yet great, story.

Do not tell an unhappy customer they should NOT be unhappy.

Denver hotel clerk at 6:30 am: “How was everything?”

Customer: “Well, not great. No hot water and a very early flight. Had to scamper down the hall to the room next door and grab a shower with still chilly, but bearable water.”

Clerk: “Oh well! Sometimes the water just takes a while to make the trip. You know, just like at home!”

Customer: “No. At home the faucet produces HOT water. Every time.” (The first clerk said “the plumbing in that part of the building is problematic.”)

Why is it so difficult to acknowledge a screw-up?

Thank you, Joan, for sharing. I hear lots of horror stories; things customers cannot believe people say to them.

Here’s my own personal list said to me this weekend in different settings:

• “I’ll be right with you.” Said the waitress 3 times as she passed our table and served others who came in AFTER us. (No explanation.)

• “Ma’am, I’m just trying to help you.” Said in an aggravated tone after I told clerk: “I’m OK; thanks anyway.”

• “No problem.” Said 8 times no matter what I said.

• “Browse all you want. I’m here if you need me.” No card given. No handshake. No real welcome.

• “We don’t do that. You can call one of the repair stores – they may.” Had to ask for the repair store’s phone number.

• “Honey,” “sweetie” or “dear.” (By men or women.) Don’t know their name? ASK!!! Trust me you’ll be more popular.

Let me hear from you. Things that you were told as a customer. Any industry is welcome.

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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 www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly