Loyalty Leader Quick Tips

Are You “Shoulding” On Your Customers?

December 7, 2016

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You believe you are delivering excellent service. You sincerely care about what the customer needs and you are trying to be helpful. Your tone of voice is warm and friendly. Then suddenly your customer becomes annoyed or offended. What just happened?

We tend to use negative language without being aware of the impact of the words. We do know that people who can recognize, and then change, negative or abrupt language into positive phrases are consistently more effective in their customer service roles. It takes a little practice, but mastering this technique will make both you and your customers more satisfied with your communication.

Even when we are trying to do everything right, we sometimes make the mistake of “shoulding” all over our customers. Here are common trigger words or phrases that often cause resentment because your customer may perceive that he or she if being given an order:

  • you have to
  • you must
  • you should

It happens so innocently. Here are some examples of negative phrases and how you can change them into language that your customers will appreciate:

Negative: “You just have to give me the last four digits of your social security number so that I can access your account.”

  • Positive: “In order for me to protect your privacy and access your account, I will need the last four digits of your social security number.

Negative: “You will have to talk to my manager about this.”

  • Positive: “Our manager is the person who is best able to help you to get this resolved quickly.”

Negative: “You must use the parking lot behind the building or you could get a ticket.”

  • Positive:  “In order to avoid the possibility of receiving a ticket, I recommend that you park in the lot behind our building.”

Negative: “You should fill out the form and send it directly to me so I can take care of this for you.”

  • Positive: “In order for me to process your request, I need you to fill out a form with the following information.”

It’s really pretty straightforward, replace the language that sounds like your giving a customer an order with this simple formula:

“In order for me to do this, I need you to do that. I like the word “I” better than “we” because it implies that you are taking ownership of the service.

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