Five Things to Never Say to a Customer

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A few months ago, I wrote about a Customer Service Representative’s (CSR) most powerful word – “can” (find it here:  Recently, nationally recognized consumer advocate Ron Burley  wrote about the flip side to this coin – “Five Worst You Can Say to a Customer” (  I’ll call them the “Fatal Five” because they kill goodwill and customer relationships.

While all of these are bad, the most egregious of these, in my opinion, is directing a customer to your website.  Chances are the customer has been to your website, become frustrated that he or she hasn’t been able to find what he or she was looking for, which is the reason you got the call in the first place.  Sending him or her back to where he or she started is merely a customer avoidance tactic.  One that is not conducive to long-term, fulfilling customer relationships.

As a customer, think about the number of times you may have heard one of the Fatal Five.  As a customer service professional, responsible for hundreds or thousands of CSRs, think about the number of times YOUR customers hear these on a daily basis despite your best efforts otherwise.

All too often, CSR candidates are interviewed primarily for their basic communication and technical skills and not for their critical thinking customer service skills.  Developing an interview protocol where a CSR candidate is presented a realistic scenario where one of the likely responses could be one of the Fatal Five pays dividends down the road in customer satisfaction and retention.  Overall CSR performance is higher and coaching sessions tend to be more pleasant (for CSR and coach alike) and focus on the finer points of superior service.

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