When Mother Earth Calls - Everyone Should Answer
What's the Big Idea?

Five Things You Should Never Say to A Customer

By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

The battles between vendor and customer simply don't have to be unending.  Unfortunately, all too often the client or customer are seen as adversaries.  (And to be fair, vice versa.  Give the other person a chance before you start attacking the company.)  A lot of issues could be avoided completely if we'd all stop and think how something will read or sound.  For example:

1. "...your little issues."   Whoa!  They may seem little to you but they're keeping me up at night.  

2."If you'd just read the documentation."  This assumes that: a. I've GOT the documentation (that online help feature is broken); b. The documentation addresses my problem.  (Seems to me that most "help" documents are written for either the complete idiot or the super techie.  No in-between.) 

3. "If you'd had only one hour of training on this, you wouldn't be having this problem."  This for a piece of software that I've been using for over a year...I've got the basics and I still have those pesky "little" issues. (Turns out the developer hadn't given me the right access levels.)

4.  "As we told you when you signed up." You mean five years ago and thousands of dollars in revenue for you later?  The last paragraph in 0.5 point type on the back of the terms and conditions?  Oh yes, of course.  It's all MY fault.

5. "We value your business."  Yes, it's a great sentiment...but not when it's in a form letter or phone rep's script...after the company has basically told you they couldn't care less (about your service issue, refund or rebate.) Actions always speak louder than words. 

I think the problems are getting worse rather than better.  Thanks and no thanks to the myriad ways of being connected (which isn't the same as making a connection.)  All the social media stuff can be great, but not when misused and abused.  Twitter, for example, is a good way for an instant heads-up re a customer issue.  It's a terrible way to gather the details behind the issue.  Way too many ways those 140 characters can be mis-typed, mis-interpreted, mis-communicated.  Those thumbs can be moving a lot faster than the brain.  (even when using all ten fingers...haven't we all gone too fast and furious?)   

So, two things:  1. As always, think before you speak/type; 2. Try to see it from the other person's viewpoint (even if you think it's the dumbest view on the planet.) 

Lastly, as my Mom once told me, "You can think anything you want." Which means you don't always have to open your big yap...;-)


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Purushyottam Ghosh

"you don't always have to say something."

Reminds me of the auto-replies I get from a few marketers whenever I email them. The replies are usually like "I am offline right now. I would get back to you as soon as I am online" or that "Right now I am on a vacation so don't have access to my computer", etc etc. I mean, do you really need to say these pesky little things to your customers? Maybe from the marketer's point of view it is a way to keep the customer "updated:" but I believe these are the last things that customer even wants to know; I for one delete them as soon as I get. :P

Teresa Morrow


Yes, when a customer is calling about an issue or problem they are having the last thing they wish to hear these condescending statements.
I would rather hear, "let me see how I can solve this problem for you" or even "to help us better serve you next time...".

Sometimes it does just take us slowing things down a bit, taking a few deep breaths and allowing the resolution to be dealt without having to really saying anything. After all, it is the resolution to the problem that takes care of it.

And I love your last line...you don't always have to say something.

Thanks Mary, nice post.

Lee Drake

You forgot "To be honest with you", which implies that you're usually NOT being honest with them. Anytime someone says this - look for the lie.

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