28 November 2019

6 Things You Should Never Say to Your Customers

Have you ever witnessed a Karen ask to speak to the manager? Often Karen is overreacting, but there are some things that should never be said to customers.

For B2B companies, most business will come from current clients. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to keep them loyal and loving you. And that means (sometimes) biting your tongue.

Let’s look at the six things to avoid saying when addressing customers, just in case you end up face to face with a real-life Karen.

“Always come from a place of empathy when disagreeing with your customer”


1. “No”


Obviously, sometimes you do need to say no. Like when a client thinks they want one of these design trends we never want to see and need to be course-corrected.

However, when it comes to dealing with clients, the truth of the matter is that people don’t like hearing an immediate, harsh “no”. Always come from a place of empathy when disagreeing with your customer and offer them alternatives.

If a customer asks for a refund, you might say you’re disappointed to hear they’re unsatisfied and would be glad to offer them an exchange. This shifts the focus away from the negative of denying what they asked for, and instead positions the “no” as an opportunity, resulting in a more enjoyable interaction.

The workaround: Turn a “no” into a “not right now” or “let’s revisit that at a later date”.

“You might be going for a tone of voice that’s funny, authentic, and confident, but you run the risk of sounding tone-deaf, crass, and rude.”


2. Using Expletives


Swearing just isn’t a good look. You might be going for a tone of voice that’s funny, authentic, and confident, but you run the risk of sounding tone-deaf, crass, and rude.

Of course like any rule, there are exceptions. Kmart’s “ship my pants” ad gets away with it because a) Kmart is established as a fun brand that can appeal to the humour of their customers and b) they’re not really swearing! They’re alluding to swearing which is far easier on the ears and sensibilities.

The workaround: When in doubt, ditch the swears. If you want to go for it, make sure you’ve got a gun copywriter so you don’t ship the bed.


3. Unrealistic Time-Frames


There is nothing more frustrating than being told “I’ll get back to you by the end of the day” and three days go by with radio silence.

When this happens, the customer feels they’ve been lied to and that the company doesn’t care about them. The good news? It’s easily fixed!

You have two choices. Your first choice is to tell them a deadline and treat it like a verbal contract that you STICK to.

Your second choice is to under-promise and over-deliver. This might look like saying “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can”.

The workaround: Stick to your promises, or don’t promise at all.


4. “Sorry”


Never apologise when you can be grateful instead. An apology can imply you did something wrong, which most of the time is not the case. There is often no one at fault.

That’s why instead of unnecessarily accepting the blame, try being grateful for their patience and understanding. Unless of course, you messed up big time. In which case, take ownership, be accountable and be genuine.

The workaround: “Thanks for your understanding, I appreciate it.”


“…it comes to down to understanding what your brand stands for”

5. Handballing


Phrases like “that’s actually handled by another department” are scream-into-the-phone-worthy sources of exasperation for customers.

Rather than shifting blame and hiding processes like a magic trick, take ownership of your customer’s enquiry and maintain communication.  Even if it is Bob’s department, take on the problem and liaise between Bob and the customer if you’ve already established rapport.

The workaround: Once you’ve caught the ball, don’t pass it off— hang onto it until you score a goal. And by that we mean solve the problem.


6. Confrontational Social Media Comments


More and more, social media is viewed as customer service. In fact, 55% of consumers call out brands on social to get a resolution or response. On such a pubic platform, your brand absolutely does not want to come off as rude or apathetic. Having a fight with a customer on any social channel is a bad look.

Instead, see it as an opportunity to provide a resolution for the customer while everyone is watching on. Being called out on social media can be positive when handled with sincerity and empathy. Leave the insults out of it.

Once again, the rules are made to be broken. Being sassy in the comments can be an engaging, funny way to build rapport with your customers. But it’s worth noting the devastating blows are typically aimed at other brands, not at customers.

The workaround: Base your response on the values your brand holds dear.

There’s often no hard and fast rules in how a brand should behave. Ultimately it comes to down to understanding what your brand stands for and communicating that to your customers in the best possible way.

Keen to work on how your brand communicates to your customers? Reach out to us today.


For branding by Bellman

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