The importance of choosing words carefully within the customer service industry is crucial and can play a very important role in whether or not your business will have returning customers. Nearly 70% of all customer will quit doing business with a company if they feel there were mistreated, treated rudely and or treated with indifference, and most employees do not even realize that they have offended a customer to the point of no return.
Just like there is customer service strategies we follow to deliver excellent service, there are also basic “Thou shalt nots” of the industry that no matter what sector of customer service you are on, you should not utter these phrases to customers.
The following compiled list includes discouraged phrases from the hospitality industry that should be avoided within customer and employee interactions.
To be honest with you/ To be perfectly honest…
This implies to a customer that up until this point you as an employee have not been honest to them. It also impacts the credibility of the entire company.
Instead: Do not use a sentence in this manner, rather say nothing at all than show dishonesty or indicate that you are being dishonest to them.
Like I said…
This indicates that your time as an employee holds so much value that you cannot be bothered to repeat yourself. However, there is a difference if there a miscommunication between yourself and a customer, and you are attempting to repeat yourself for clarification.
Instead: Try other phrases such as: “as previously mentioned”, “referring to your questions regarding”, this allows you as an employee to answer customers’ questions and direct them exactly to what it is you are talking about to avoid confusion.
Did you plug it in?
This is a familiar sentence within the hospitality industry and refers to customer complaints that suggest something of some sort is not working, as there are many variations to this common customer service scenario.
Instead: Instead of asking the customer the obvious, “Did you plug it in?” type of question, empower them to come to the conclusion on their own, or create positive responses that clarify they will get a solution. Ask them questions that will lead to the answer such as, “Can you do me a favour and check the connection? Perhaps the connector came loose”. Creating positive responses will allow the customer to be more cooperative and understanding, and perhaps reach the conclusion themselves.
I’m not going to argue with you
By stating that you are not going to argue with the customer already indicates that you are being argumentative. This may create an uncomfortable situation between an employee and customer that will not create a positive outcome for either of the parties involved.
Instead: Don’t argue with a customer, understand their needs the best you can and use positive language that shows you understand their point, but are not backing down what you believe in.
Although this is a common response towards “Thank you” and there is nothing wrong with using this response on an occasional level, but professionally, there are better-suited options. “No problem” is the equivalent of a thoughtless response.
Instead: Use direct appreciation when thanking guests such as “Thank you for coming,” or “Hope you enjoyed your stay!” to indicate gratitude.
I don’t know/ That isn’t my department
Stating to a customer that you as an employee do not know the answer to something is acceptable, however, it depends on how you state this to a customer. By indicating “I don’t know.” to the customer and not seeking an answer for them shows them that you are lazy and unknowledgeable, and this can result in a frustrating guest experience.
Instead: A response such as,“I will find out the answer for you.” indicates effort even if the answer is not something the customer wants, what they want to hear is that the employee has made an effort to help them.
Please calm down
Similar to “I’m not going to argue with you”, this phrase may ignite an argument rather than solve a customer- employee confrontation.
Instead: Allow the customer to voice how they are feeling in order to blow off some steam so that you can better solve the situation at hand. Be understanding of their needs and respectful of how they may be internalizing the conversation, rather than acquisitory. Approach the situation with empathy but still be genuine towards the customer, by stating “I can understand how you can feel that way” can allow customers to feel recognized by employees.
By remembering these tips and sharing with employees of your establishment you will create habits for your business to improve customer and employee interactions. As you already know, customer and employee interactions are powerful within your business to create customer loyalty, thoughtful experiences and a lasting impression. Braymark is here to help provide your establishment with a true sense of how your customer service is ranking and exactly which aspects of your services need to be addressed, through the investment of a customer service experience audit.