Avoid these customer service phrases for better communication

Thursday, July 7, 2016

For both callers and agents, the most frustrating thing that can happen during transactions is miscommunication. It may flare up already irate callers and give agents a harder time explaining solutions. Unfortunately, however, such instances are more common than any of us would've liked. As contact center interactions don't happen face-to-face, they're a breeding ground for misinterpretations.

It's also exactly why contact centers must constantly aim to deliver clear messages as a way of improving communication. This means that if you want to be understood, your call center training program must focus on effective communication. One way to do this is to encourage agents to avoid commonly thrown-around phrases that complicate, rather than add value to, conversations.

Although this is a difficult habit to break, it's one of the best ways to ensure that agents and customers truly understand one another. Eliminating these customer service phrases whether you're on the phone, email, or live chat can instantly improve transactions.


1.   Vague expressions

There's no room for uncertainty in platform-based customer care transactions. Customers want to know that you have a concrete plan for solving their problems, and using obscure phrases won't help your case. Examples of these are:

•   Let me look into that.

•   I'll see what I can do.

•   I'll get back to you on this.

Aside from diminishing the quality of interactions, these lines give off the vibe that agents don't really know what they're doing. What customers want to hear are exact, goal-oriented solutions. To placate customers, you must provide them with a detailed, step-by-step course of action to resolve their issues.


2.   The word "no" and its variations

As much as possible, call center agents should avoid responding negatively to any kind of query. Never utter these phrases at all costs:

•   Unfortunately, we don't have a solution for that.

•   I don't know.

•   I can't help you with this.

•   It's not our job.

Remember that your primary role as a contact center is to assist customers through all types of pain points. Granted, there'll be instances wherein you won't be able to directly solve their problems, as you may be limited by industry or brand policies. When this happens, agents must be ready to provide alternate solutions. Start with lines like these:

•   Although we can't provide a solution to that, here's a better offer.

•   I understand your frustration. The solution we recommend is this.


3.   Ambiguous deadlines

Brands have to deliver customer service as fast as they can, and customers expect you to come up with speedy solutions. However, using ambiguous time indicators such as these can be frustrating for them:

•   ASAP

•   urgent

•   quickly

•   soon

•   right away

•   when I get the chance

Instead of these indefinite time frames, why not give them an exact schedule? You may use these lines instead:

•   Expect this to be resolved within two working days.

•   I'll call you back at 3:00 PM today.

•   You'll receive an email from us in two hours.


4.   Exaggerations

To manage customers' expectations well, call center agents must not promise what they can't deliver. When you exaggerate, you're setting the bar high, which means that customers may end up disappointed if you fail to follow through. Examples of these are:

•   We'll work our magic to solve this!

•   We're simply experts at this!

On the other hand, you must not also be perceived as incompetent. Although it's necessary to project a can-do and positive attitude, you should consider your actual capabilities and resources. The better way to assure customers that you're working on their requests is to be direct and honest. Explain to them the procedures you'll be following to resolve their complaints. You may also let them know which tools you'll be using, or tell them about your team of subject matter experts.


5.   Overused words

The golden rule of effective communication is this: Do away with unnecessary words and phrases. These are terms or expressions that don't add meaning to statements. In fact, casually using them can irritate customers or complicate the message. We're all guilty of this mistake at times. Some of the phrases that must be avoided are:

•   basically

•   literally

•   like (e.g., I'm, like, confused here.)

•   OMG, LOL, and other abbreviations and internet slang

Although these expressions seem to lighten up the atmosphere, it may sound too informal and it could be a big turn-off for some customers. So rather than using these phrases, try instead to find the balance between keeping the conversation businesslike but relaxed at the same time.