4 Words You Should Never Say to a Customer—Ever!

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When dealing with customers, you want to be as professional as possible. But at the same time, you don’t want to make them feel like they are speaking to a robot. The secret is to strike a balance between professionalism and being casual with a customer. However, 3C Contact Services, the top provider of third-party outsourced call center solutions, tells their partners that there are moments when agents can take either professionalism or casualness to the extreme.

There are certain things your agents should avoid when dealing with customers. Here are the top four:

  1. Calling them “Sir” or ‘Ma’am”: The same goes for “Mister” or “Miss,” though there are some customers who prefer this. Asking permission to call them by their first name, and then proceeding to call them “ma’am” or “sir” might give them the wrong impression that you forgot their name. Calling them by their first name personalizes the interaction, and can be a good way to defuse a difficult situation later on in the call.
  2. Obscenities: When you strike a rapport with a customer, it can feel natural to forget where you are and say something inappropriate. Even if the customer is swearing up a preverbal storm, it is never acceptable to speak to a customer as if you are in a bar. Remember that you represent the company, and in many cases your call could be overheard (let alone digitally recorded) by members of the management team. Keep it lighthearted, but always professional.
  3. No: This is one word that an agent must never say to a customer, though it doesn’t mean that agents have to cater to their every request. Focus on providing a solution and what you can do for the customer as opposed to what can’t be done. Finding an alternative can mean the difference between a cancelled order and a successful sale.
  4. Slang: Avoid using slang in conversations with customers. Keep the language you use professional. Don’t use any informal language such as “cool,” or even current buzzwords such as “YOLO.”

Your agents should also avoid saying “actually;” to a customer, this can sound like the agent is being condescending. Also don’t say “It’s no big deal,” because while it may not be a big deal to you, it is to the customer; instead, say “Tell me more.” And never say, “Don’t worry about it,” as to some customers, it may seem like you’re trying to tell them how to feel.

Even if a customer is the first one to complain about a problem, never mention it. Treat each customer complaint as a learning experience you can use to improve your products and services.

Finally, joking and bantering with a customer to break the ice is fine and helps to keep things personal, but your agents must avoid telling jokes that could be inappropriate or even offensive.