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Finding The Right Words For Every Customer Interaction And Situation


by Renée Evenson, author of “Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service

No matter where you work as a service provider you will no doubt come up against customers who are rude and angry, overly analytical, too friendly for comfort, or even utterly irrational, among other bad behaviors that leave you feeling frustrated, stressed out, and scrambling for the right words to say. And it isn’t always the customer who behaves badly. Sometimes you may say or do something you instantly regret and wish you could take back.

In my book “Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service“, I offer a read- to-use arsenal filled with the right words to diffuse customer tensions, maintain control of the conversation, and resolve a problematic situation to the customer’s satisfaction.

The bottom line is that you can’t control the types of customers you handle. But you can always learn to choose what comes out of your mouth.

As a service provider, it’s your job to give great service to all of your customers, but you know it can be really tough to do that. The good news is that you can learn how — it’s all in what you say and what you do that will enable you to get the customer on your side and complete the contact successfully. Taken from real life scenarios, “Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service” describes 50 bad behaviors and provides useful scripts that show you what to say to get you back in control and back on track.

Here’s a sampling of 5 powerfully effective phrases to help you deal with difficult customers:

1. Speak Courteously.

Please, Thank you, You’re welcome, Yes (rather than yeah), Sir or Ma’am (spoken in a respectful tone). Speaking courteously will often break down the barriers that cause customers to be difficult.

2. Convey Regret.

I’m sorry or I apologize — those two words, spoken from the heart, mean a lot to a customer who’s upset. And when no one is at fault, say: I’m sorry that happened.

3. Offer an Assurance.

I’m going to take care of this right now; Let me find out what happened and correct this for you; or I’m going to get my manager to help you right now. Assuring the customer and speaking with a sense of urgency keeps you in control of the conversation.

4. Empathize.

I understand where you’re coming from; I’d feel the same way if that happened to me; or I feel bad that happened to you. Showing understanding always sends a positive message.

5. Show Appreciation.

Thank you for allowing me to take care of this for you; I’m glad I was able to help you; or I/We appreciate your patience. Showing appreciation to customers is smart business; showing appreciation to difficult customers is necessary business.


Renée Evenson has worked in customer service management and training for over 30 years, including nearly 20 years at BellSouth Telecommunications, and has been writing about how to provide exceptional customer service for more than a decade. Her previous books, “Customer Service Training 101” and “Customer Service Training 101“, were both published by AMACOM.