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Customer Communication Blunders

Sometimes youll have a customer go quiet and wonder "Was it something I said?". Theres a chance youve had a communication blunder without realising it, or knowing how to recover from it. This post is aimed at showing how mistakes can be made and avoided.

You may communicate with customers and colleagues every day and not realise there are some words and phrases that upset them. Its natural not to know every buzzword that could cause harm to the relationship.

Having bad bookends

Conversational bookends are the first and last things you say during a conversation. You may not realise that the things youre saying are damaging the relationship, but they can have a subtle effect. For example "I gotta" and "Thats about it" are poor quality opening and closing statements.

Good bookends include names, start by saying the name of the person youre speaking to and close with your own name. This warms the person up to the conversation and shows that youre a real person.

A good example is: "Carol, please could I look up your account before proceeding?" as an opener and "This has been the support team; my name is James" to close. As you can see these bookends are much more personal and gives a touch of individuality to the conversation.

Using negative words

Using negative words can paint a picture of you as a person, your words show your attitude to the person on the receiving end of them. To help with this, keep it positive.

Rather than saying "No problem" or "Thats not an issue", say something more along the lines of "Yes, I can do that" or "Ill take care of it". Youre saying almost the same thing, but only using positive words to say it.

Asking poor questions

The quality of your question can lead to the quality of the answers youre given. If the questions youre asking are quite shallow, for example, "Can I get your account number? Whats the problem?", the conversation is stopped in its tracks. Theres nothing there to move it forward.

A better way of wording the question is to bridge it with the reason. For example, "Can I get your account number so that I can look up your latest purchase?" or "Can you tell me about the issue so I can see if its a performance issue?"

Ignoring emotions

Customers often convey how theyre feeling, whether theyre confused by a situation, frustrated by a mistake, or happy because of an unexpected bonus. If you fail to acknowledge their feelings and get straight down to business, it can be off-putting.

Try and make a personal connection and acknowledge their feelings and emotions. The following are some of the ways you can make the customer feel valued:

  • "I see why youre confused, I would feel the same"
  • "I understand how frustrating it can be, Ive been in the same situation and I didnt like it."
  • "Youve made my day being so happy about this"

Stressing theres stress

When you draw attention to the stress in the situation, it can inflame the situation further. Phrases such as "Calm down" or "Take it easy", can make the situation more volatile than it already is. To prevent the situation escalating further, these other phrases could be used instead:

  • "What would you like to see happen?"
  • "How would you like this taken care of?
  • "Lets get to the bottom of this so that we can get it resolved"

If you find yourself in a situation where the correct words can make all the difference to the situation, choose what you say carefully. You dont want to further inflame the situation and make matters worse.

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