Sometimes a simple, badly phrased question can undo months of hard work to win over a customer. The truth is that many companies forget that winning a customer is not enough: you have to maintain the same level of friendliness and professionalism if you want to keep them loyal.
In many cases the trouble starts when customers contact your company to request assistance with their purchase. Maybe they are not happy with the way a product works, or they did not understand the instructions of use. It is possible that they are not very clear and specific in their explanations. But whatever the situation is, do not try to shift the responsibility to assist the customer off your shoulders.
The customer bought a product, not just because they were happy with the price – they also believed your claims of excellent customer service. This belief can be easily destroyed with a few words, and turn the customer into a bitter ex-customer who may even decide to vent their dissatisfaction on the social media. For this and many other reasons, you should always avoid these phrases when dealing with your customers:
- “You’ll Have to Contact the Manufacturer”
As a distributor, your job does not end after the sale is completed. You cannot wash your hands of the responsibility of assisting the customer, even if all you can do is contact the manufacturer yourself.
Customer service in retail and distribution is all about making things as simple and easy for your customers as possible. When you try to circumvent your responsibilities by passing them on to the manufacturer, you have failed your customer and they will find another retailer.
- “You Don’t Understand…”
Maybe it is true and the customer did not understand something in the instructions manual or the information on your website. But when you tell them so plainly to their face, you sound patronising and arrogant. The customer does not need to be humiliated, they are already upset and this attitude is like trying to douse a fire with gasoline.
These three words will turn your customer, who just wants assistance, into someone who will never do business with you anymore. It is much simpler to be patient and see where the misunderstanding lies and then correct it.
- “This Is Not Our Policy”
The days when companies can just hide behind policies to shirk their responsibilities to customers are gone. And even if what your customer asks you is against your policies, there are nicer and more helpful ways to deal with this situation.
It is much more productive for both sides to identify ways in which you can help the customer. Present them with various options and show them that you really care about them.
- “I Can’t Help You”
Actually, you can help your customer. Even if it is nothing your company can do, you can contact the manufacturer, help the customer fill in a malfunction ticket or give them higher priority in having their problem solved.
If you cannot help your customers when they experience issues with your products or services, then why are you in business?
- “You’re the First Customer Having Trouble with This”
That’s great, you have just told off your customer and made them feel bad about themselves! Belittling people is something you should never ever do, not only in business, but in life in general.
Even if this is your first complaint in connection to a specific product, you should focus on trying to help the customer and not make the situation worse.
In the end, it boils down to this: you may have the best products and best prices, but if you lack empathy, understanding and the desire to be helpful, you will soon be out of business. Words matter as much as actions, so be careful how you speak to your customers.