Originally posted on CU Insight – 9/26/14
My late mother had a favorite saying – “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.” In other words, “shut up and listen!” I’m sure that we’ve all found ourselves in the middle of a discussion where the other person is talking and while we are supposed to be listening intently, what we’re actually doing is preparing our response – formulating what we’re going to say and how we’re going to say it.
Organizations across all industries will inevitably have to address complaints and concerns from their patrons. It’s going to happen. Many organizations put a focus on customer service training, which includes of course, handling complaints. The problem that exists with such training is that many companies don’t include any serious training on the art of listening. Instead, employees are given a folder or binder full of potential complaint scenarios as well as scripts or “comebacks” to handle those situations. NEWSFLASH – the consumer is smarter and savvier than ever before in history. They know when they are being fed a line.
Here is a list of phrases/comebacks that should NEVER be used:
“There’s nothing we can do” – Awful. There is always something you can do. It may not be exactly what is requested but at least make the effort to find some kind of solution. Consumers come to you for solutions. They want you to empathize. Many times, simply offering tiny concessions can diffuse anger and ease tension that exists in a difficult situation.
“It’s our policy to….” – NEWSFLASH! No one gives a damn about your policies. Don’t get me wrong – it is important to have policies in place in order to protect the integrity of your business and to ensure that the organization remains viable. But for goodness sake, don’t point to a policy as a way of getting out of listening to someone that is asking for help!
“Unfortunately…..” – Say this and you’ve already lost. Using “unfortunately” to begin a response basically sends a message to your brain that it’s going to be disappointed with the rest of the response so it stops listening! What happens instead is that the consumer gets a rush of adrenaline and, like a lion about to pounce on its next meal, as soon as you’re done talking (or before you’re done talking) the unmistakable displeasure of an even angrier consumer will be thrust upon you. If you’re in the service business, eradicate “unfortunately” from your vocabulary.
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