Monday, January 28, 2008

3 Words You Don't Want to Say

In the competitive marketplace of today, customers are all so valuable. No longer can companies afford turning off customers or members. Remember the old marketing adage, "it costs 10 times more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one."

In a recent post, Customer Service and Silver Bullets, I shared my recent experience with a retail clerk not devoting his full attention to customers -- the cell phone was glued to his ear. This retail clerk didn't appreciate the value of the customer on this day. But this clerk is not alone when it comes to under-valuing the customer.

My Colleague's story

A colleague of mine, had a story that topped this one. He said he was calling a support line to get a few account questions answered. It was at this moment that he heard 3 words he did not want to hear.

"I don't know."

These are the three words my colleague heard. It was like a dagger to his heart. These 3 words caused his heart skip a beat and created deep-lasting injury. He subsequently transferred a large amount of business away from the company. He had given the support reps plenty of chances. Not everyone is going to know the answer to all questions. However, there are steps we can and should do to minimize the risk of alienating a customer and more importantly -- losing credibility.

What you can say

"I don't know the answer to your question, but I will find out." There is nothing wrong with admitting we don't know something. Honesty is an endearing quality. But it is important we let our customers know we value them, therefore we will find the answer to their question.

Why this will work

I just believe people admire transparency and a dogged determination to make things happen. When we use the phrase, "I don't know the answer to your question, but I will find out," we show the customer we are just like them --human.

What to Do In The Future

  1. Develop a list of frequently asked for your team. This is a task I'd assign to the team. Each member can submit a question to a master list.
  2. Coach your team on what to say in this situation. Don't assume they know what to say.
  3. Create a uniform environment by having procedures in place. This way you know the TEAM is following the same steps and relaying the same information.

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