Properly communicating with your customers is the best way to strengthen relationships and earn more of their business. Although it can take quite a bit of time to foster a strong relationship, it only takes a few careless words to undo all you’ve worked to build. In fact, there are three phrases that can be the kiss of death on your relationship with your customers.
1. “I don’t care”
One thing that’s important to remember is that, in business, it’s never about you. It’s about your customers. It’s all about them.
Yes, your customer may be sitting in your office telling you a half hour story about their dog’s last surgery and you may not care in the slightest. Try to avoid letting them know. Once you open the door of not caring about something your customer has to say, it will stay in the back of their mind. Once it’s there, it will make them wonder if you care about:
- Billing errors
- Customer service issues
- Their business
Instead, look for diplomatic ways to bring the meeting to a close without uttering those three dangerous words.
2. “I’m really busy”
Busy days happen to us all, your customer included. The problem with letting your customer know that something fell through the cracks because you were busy is the message it sends. Instead of your customer knowing their business is your priority, you’ve sent the message that someone else’s business was more important than theirs.
This is a dangerous can of worms to open. Once a customer loses the illusion of being your primary focus, they realize that little mistakes can continue to happen. If they decide they aren’t OK with playing second fiddle to the other customers, they may begin to look at your competition.
In this case, it’s better to own whatever goof was made and apologize for any delay. Own it, fix it, make assurances that it won’t happen again and move on.
3. “I understand”
If you’ve ever been in line at the bank behind an angry customer, chances are good you’ve heard a teller or manager express how they understand the customer’s frustration. Do they? Maybe. Maybe not.
When you tell a customer you understand, it typically does one of two things:
- Forges a false connection between you and the customer
- Trivializes their concerns because you’ve been there too
As a best practice, consider taking this two-word phrase out of your office vocabulary. Unless you’ve been in an identical situation to that of your customer, telling them you understand will only come across as disingenuous. Even if you have, it has the unintended side effect of making the conversation about you, not your customer.
Perhaps the best way to avoid telling customers you understand is to simply acknowledge their concern and begin looking for ways to correct it. Basically, as long as you keep your focus on your customer’s interests instead of your own, you should be able to avoid the three things to never say to customers.