7 Customer Support Responses to Avoid

by: Margaret Wood, Freelancer

One of the first things that companies introduce customer support personnel to is:  try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Why? When people call Customer Support, it’s for one of two reasons:

  1. They need help with a problem
  2. They have a question

In either case, they have reached a level of frustration that they feel needs customer support attention.  The last thing you want to do is fuel the frustration.

Here are 7 of the worst customer support responses that are not only insincere and disingenuous, but make you sound almost non-human.   Even AIs are programmed to sound more sympathetic and understand:

1. “Apologize for inconvenience”
The epitome of classic insincerity.  Even if you say something like “I’m terribly sorry for your trouble – let me see how I can help (get the right person to help you with that, etc”.  Way more personal and friendly, don’t you agree?
2. “That’s our policy”

The customer knows you have policies – they want someone to help them resolve an issue. Sending the customer “up the line” where they will be told the exact same thing you told them lets the customer know your company really doesn’t care.

Try to at least explain why things are done as they are and the reasons behind your policies if you can.

Every customer counts. Pay attention to reviews of your company.  Enough poor reviews for the same reasons may indicate your company may need to take a look at its policies, not to mention retain a happier customer.

3. “You can find the answer here…”

This one can make anyone cringe. Why not just tell them the answer if you have it?Customers don’t care how good your website looks. Just send a link or paste the answer  into an email and save them some time. That way, they have it right there and can go back to it as often as they like.

4. Foul language 

Don’t do it! It’s not worth losing your job over it! 

You need to keep it together and rise above. Keep a friendly and professional tone and you’ll feel good about yourself.

This one can raise the hair at the back of your neck.  However, the good news is – as an employee, nay, as a human being, you do not have to listen to abuse.

By all rights, you can hang up on them by first saying something to effect of: “Please call me back when you’ve had a minute to calm down and are willing talk to me in a respectful manner. I cannot help you when you are cussing me out. I am hanging up now. Good bye.”  One of three things will happen: they will calm down immediately, or you will hang up on them, or they will hang up on you.

I can almost guarantee you there is no respect manager  who cares about their employees would reprimand you if you were polite through the entire conversation – hopefully it was recorded.

5. “No one’s ever complained about that before”
What the customer hears: “It’s probably your fault, you dummy”. Don’t make your customers feel small -show some interest – there’s a first time for everything.  Get details, and give them the confidence that you will try to make it right.

6. “That’s another department”
Really? If your company only has one number listed for customer service or has 42 choices of extensions, how can you expect customers to dial the right department? If you have to redirect them to another department, you can preface it with, “Let me get you someone  who can help you with that. Do you mind if I place you on hold while I try to reach them for you?”

7. “Thank you for your feedback”
This one might be OK if you’ve provided an online review or satisfaction survey. But when it comes to customer service, how about a friendlier, softer, more personalized approach: “Thanks for taking your time to share your thoughts with us.” Make your customers feel appreciated.

A last thought:

You don’t want to sound unwilling to help, ignorant or condescending to your customer. So, put yourself in their place – how do you feel when you have to call a company regarding an issue you’ve encountered and run into these responses?

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