Endless waiting. Looped hold music that you can’t get out of your head. Repeating yourself as your call transfers from department to department. We can all agree that contacting customer service is an annoying task. When a customer contacts support, they already anticipate being unhappy.
We asked around for customer service pet peeves. Coupled with our experiences on both ends of customer service, we found that some annoyances were universal.
For business owners and managers, sometimes there’s only so much you can do to manage incoming customer queries. An upsurge in call volumes or a sudden amount of staff sick days make it difficult to meet demand.
Even during stressful times, the words and phrases that your staff use when dealing with customers is in your control. And so, here is a list of the most cliché phrases–verbal and written–that customers hate and how you can better respond.
Instead of saying ‘I don’t know,’ find an answer.
Anyone who has worked in customer service knows that the phrase ‘I don’t know’ is forbidden. Suggesting the customer call another department is equally bad form. No one should be in the habit of brushing off a customer. Whether another department has a better answer or not, it makes a customer feel ignored.
Sometimes you won’t know an answer, and that’s okay. No matter how long you’ve been with your contact centre, there’s a first time for every question. Even managers don’t always have policies to refer to.
Work on phrasing it better and buy time to find the answer for the customer. Provide your team with sample responses such as ‘I’d be happy to find out for you.’ If you do need to redirect a call, make sure you are passing the customer onto someone who knows the answer.
Let a customer know when they will be on hold, and keep them posted on wait time if possible.
Indefinite waiting and leaving a customer hanging are unacceptable. Give customers an overestimate of how long it will take to find an answer. Always let them know that you are about to place them on hold. If a query is taking longer to sort out than expected, get back to the customer now and then with an update.
Some customers prefer to be involved in the research process. While on hold, if a customer seems interested, suggest where they may look for alternate solutions while you work within your contact centre.
Instead of saying ‘calm down,’ let the customer express themselves.
You have probably made this mistake before with your parents or a romantic partner. Asking someone to calm down stokes the flames of frustration. No matter what your intentions are, even if it benefits the situation, ‘calm down’ sounds patronising and dismissive.
Wait it out. Let the customers speak or even shout. It generally helps them to purge their frustrations. Don’t be impatient and interrupt or explain yourself. Sooner or later the customer will most likely calm down and be more inclined to hear you out.
Instead of saying ‘I understand how you feel,’ acknowledge their frustration.
Even if you can 100% relate to a customer’s experience, they don’t care. Rather than letting them know you can relate, make them feel understood. While your intentions are to be supportive and empathetic, it can backfire. Instead of understanding a customer, acknowledge their concern and anger as unique. Repeat the issue using their words and be ready for them to correct you, even if you are quoting what they said verbatim.
Instead of saying ‘I hope this email finds you well,’ save pleasantries to the end of the email.
Using this greeting makes a correspondence personal, but it misses the mark. This phrase is ubiquitous in business conversation but is formulaic and dry. More often than not, such a phrase sounds like spam, like with email subjects like ‘last chance’ or ‘don’t miss this’. It’s generic and unconvincing.
Be informative and genuine. If you wish to use pleasantries, save them for the end of the email after the informative content.
Instead of saying ‘your call is important to us,’ offer information about asynchronous communication.
We have all heard this one before. When you say a customer’s call is important, they know it’s a preface to being put on hold. When you say that a call is important, customers assume it’s insincere and wonder how long they should wait to hang up.
If customer calls are piling up, encourage your customers to visit the website. If you offer omnichannel customer service, let your customers know. If you don’t, consider investing in this alternative to improve customer service conversations. Provide customers with alternatives to help them resolve issues on their own. Offering resources for customers and more channels for contact will reduce call volumes.
Don’t get too personal, but do speak in layman’s terms.
Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. About 65% of online customers prefer a casual tone to a formal one. Agents often overcorrect and fall into the trap of being too friendly or informal. This sets themselves up for unhappy customers.
When customer requests are denied, that casual tone becomes annoying to customers and negatively impacts satisfaction. Minimise chats about football scores and summer holidays. They may come back to bite you should a problem arise.
Keep it friendly yet professional. Your goal is to understand and resolve their issue. Be empathetic and clear. Avoid jargon for clarity, but don’t be condescending.
Consider software to manage your customer conversations.
Efficiencies and workflows can be difficult to manage as you scale over time. To avoid the redundancies, long wait times, and confusion that exemplify most customer service experiences, a communication hub or a CRM is a great solution.
Platforms like Logicalware connect you to your customers with seamless communication. We merge conversations across email, SMS, Facebook, live chat, and more into a single conversation. Our intuitive platform tracks each customer journey and conversation for context and histories. It’s simplified CX with a full view of each customer.
With expanding integrations and advanced reporting, Logicalware is the simple solution for better CX strategy and customer relationships. Strengthen relationships with your customers with a software platform that works for your business.
(This article was adapted from an earlier version.)