In customer service, we hear many of the same phrases all day, every day. If given a chance, most customer service reps would likely give you a list of cringe-inducing phrases they hear at work (and in their haunting nightmares).
As a self-proclaimed representative of the hoards of customer service workers out there, here are just a few of the things NOT to say when interacting with those of us who genuinely try to lend a hand…
“Don’t give me a cookie-cutter answer” Why not? Cookie cutters lead to cookies, and cookies are delicious. What do you have against cookies? But in all semi-seriousness, we create some common responses to save some time and answer customers more quickly, and because customers often ask similar questions. Even then, we adjust most responses to suit a specific situation. All customer service issues vary, as do our responses. But back to the real issue- where are those cookies you mentioned?
“Fine! I’ll just take my business elsewhere!” It’s your call, but why? We’re awesome, and you know you love us. Besides, the grass is always greener. Sure, that other company may seem cool, but are they really? Let’s be honest, maybe we get on each others’ nerves from time to time, but I think we know that we are lucky to have one another. We truly work hard to figure out how to solve your problem(s) and make you happy. That being said, to love someone is to let them go, so if you must fly, I hope you soar.
“I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies” That’s cool! Really, it is. It’s just not something that helps us to help you. In a different setting or situation, I’d love to hear a lot more about it.
“My time is precious” I hear what you’re saying and completely understand where you’re coming from. That’s why we work hard to discover the underlying problem causing you pain and work quickly to solve it for you.
“I’ll talk to my lawyer and…” This is one of my favorites. There are very few things in the customer service realm that an attorney could get involved in, or at least get involved in and have it be worth their billing hours. Most attorneys prefer to write complex terms of service documents carving out exceptions for zombie attacks. I’m totally serious (Section 57.10 in Amazon’s terms of service – emphasis added):
57.10 Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.
“I’d like to speak to your supervisor” This is one customers probably use most, and it doesn’t always mean getting different results. Keep in mind that there are company-wide policies on which all employees are trained, so there may not be a major shift in answers or results. It’s a good idea to take stock and figure out if the situation is really serious enough to escalate it.
“Could you please just do your job?” This one always stings a little. If someone is working on helping you out, looking for solutions, and answering questions, they very likely are doing their job. Phrases like this one just fluster the person helping you and might make them scramble a bit. It’s really a counterproductive statement.
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