Trying to be Nice CAN Cause Distress

Feeling StupidI gave a presentation on communication last week and had an interesting conversation regarding the use of words when we are trying to be helpful.  We had already covered the basics of body language being 55% of the communication model, tone of voice being 38%, and the words we use accounting for 7% of our message.

The gentleman stated that there is a technician in his web-designing company that is often on the phone with customers explaining how to program or navigate through an issue.  His clients often call for assistance when they are stuck or feeling frustrated because they can’t figure out how to program something.

He told me that this technician tries to be helpful when she tells them “Oh, it’s simple. You just do this, this, and this.”

Her customer satisfaction results have been dropping dramatically.  He said that he is certain that is customers feel stupid for not being able to figure out the answer since she said it was so simple.  They are even more frustrated when she explains the process to them, but the still don’t understand.  He was looking for another way to phrase her response since he is certain her intentions are good.

Express empathy for the frustration the customer is feeling.

My suggestion is to always let the customer off the hook with empathy.  Remember, the customer is looking for the personal touch when you interact with them and you are well served to boost their confidence in their quest for assistance.

“I know that this can seem a bit overwhelming at first.  Many people feel this way when this issue comes up.  I will walk you through it and teach you how to program this. After you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be thinking to yourself that it is actually easy.”

Increase customer confidence with the right phrasing

This phrase accomplishes so much more than merely offering assistance.  It is telling the customer that they are not alone, it is a process that usually requires direction, you are their partner in the process, and that you have confidence in their ability to learn the process and do it themselves.

Phrasing is very important when interacting with customers.  I often help clients develop a few key phrases for specific situations in order to give their staff the tools to build the rapport and use empathy while trying to fix a problem.

I’d love to hear some examples of situations similar to this story above or some of the phrases that you use that help customers feel more confident.

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