In sales or customer service, you’ve likely come across an unruly customer. Some are justified in their frustration but in most cases, they are angry twits looking to suck you into their misery. Either way, you have to deliver great customer service. Especially with the internet only a finger swipe away from beating up your credibility.
Companies offer basic training and ‘word tracks’ to help you diffuse angry customers, but they rarely work. They instruct you to apologize and repeat whatever the concern is and use their name if possible: I’m sorry Mr. Johnson that we forgot tomatoes on your burger. We will get another one now. In theory, this seems correct. However, the words don’t force you, the customer service agent, to actually FEEL SORRY. How often do you hear something like this and get even angrier because the employee clearly isn’t sorry, clearly doesn’t care and is just saying a line of junk? There is no reason for these words to make you empathetic. They also aren’t YOUR words. Why should you feel anything?
The next time you feel a confrontation, try saying
I’m really glad you said that. That’s important to me because… And of course, fill in the rest of the sentence with words that justify the first part. Here’s why it works:
I’m really glad you said that – Offering a positive statement instead of an apology, you’re encouraging positive behaviour. Often, we apologize at times that empowers a customer to have too much perceived control which leads us to be upset by how much we end up giving away. The customer believes they were wronged and the chance of feeling good is rare. I’m not saying you should never apologize, but doing so before discovering what the real problem is can create a problem that isn’t there.
You’re also conveying your excitement and interest. I’m really glad you said that. It comes across as a thank you instead of an apology.
That’s Important to me because… Here’s where YOUR words come into play. You’ve just mentioned that you are happy that said something to you and now your expressing exactly why that’s the case and WHY it’s important to you!
I’m really glad you said that, that’s important to me because our burgers are supposed to always have tomatoes on them. I’ll notify the staff of the issue and get your burger made properly.
That’s an easy one. What about when you’ve promised delivery of one of your products by a certain date (maybe weeks away) and you find out the product is delayed twice as long? Your customer says Forget it. You guys are liars and crooks. I can’t believe I trusted you guys to have this done and you screwed it up.
So it turns out on this one… it is your fault. Your company couldn’t deliver. You didn’t lie to your customer when you created an ETA, but now it looks like you did. You can try to apologize or offer a discount, but this customer has verbally attacked you.
I’m really glad you said that, that’s important to me because the last thing I want is for you to feel mislead. Your honesty has shown me just how upset you are and I want to make this right. What can I do to earn back your trust?
You may lose the business, but you also won’t escalate the situation to be worse than it is. Once memorized, this phrase can purchase you critical time to prevent you from saying something terrible, like You think I’m a crook? Screw off!
We often use this phrase in our improv shows and classes to help scene develop and force scene partners to connect with each other. When you’re forced to say you’re glad they talked and then have to say why, you’re going to be forced to empathize and care or else you sound kind of dumb. I’m really glad you said that. That’s important to me because you can SCREW OFF!
We hope you give this a try. See how it feels. Let us know. If you found this helpful, we offer ways to improve your business using all types of improv skills. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and 954-667-7735 for more information.