Customer service has many definitions. I think of a quote often attributed to the late Dr. Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you do, they’ll forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” As providers of customer service, the feelings our customers have about us show up in our evaluation scores, our promotions, and our job satisfaction. In our work in information systems and technology, we have a unique opportunity to positively affect another human or many humans by the feelings we create. While I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed by Dr. Angelou, we create those feelings by our choices of words and the actions we take with our customers.
There are many other posts on the Internet about customer service magic words and phrases. As usual, I’m thinking of IT people while I’m writing. In this particular case, however, the words and phrases are no different from other areas of customer service.
The Four Magic Customer Service Words and Phrases
Please and thank you.
Please and thank you are words and phrases which most of us learned as children. Our use of them as adults is a simple way of showing respect for civilized human interaction. When we temper our language with these, the most basic verbal tools of civility, we signify our preference for civilized discourse over a shouting match. We are saying to the other person, “I will treat you with respect and civility.”
How can I help?
Asking this simple question tells the other person that you’re compassionate and that you care about their well-being.
Everyone makes mistakes, because no one is perfect. When we mess up, it’s important to ‘fess up, admit we made a mistake, take full responsibility for it, and do what we can to make it right. As an early part of the process, we offer a sincere apology with the words, “I’m sorry.” A sincere apology is heartfelt, specific, and unconditional. Anything less is a waste of everyone’s time.
Civility, Respect, and Dignity
Obviously, there are many other words and phrases which, when used appropriately, can help to enhance the customer service experience. These four, however, are the most basic parts of polite behavior. Using them conditions the mind to think and act in a civilized, respectful, and dignified manner. Our consistent use of the basic manners most of us learned from our parents helps create the good feelings by which our customers remember us. Not only that, when we use our manners, we’re modeling behavior for everyone around us.
For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills
Bring my IT customer service training seminar onsite to your location for your group, small or large. Click here for the course description and outline.
Pick up a copy of my IT customer service book The Compassionate Geek: How Engineers, IT Pros, and Other Tech Specialists Can Master Human Relations Skills to Deliver Outstanding Customer Service, available through Amazon and other resellers.
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