MAKE YOUR CUSTIMERS
by Guy Perring
THINK of a time when you were a happy customer. Think of the
reasons why. Often, it will relate to how the staff you dealt with
made you feel. For example:
calls his insurance company and says in a worried voice, “All my
bags have been stolen from the airport this morning and I need to
know what the insurance will cover.”
Which of the following two responses do you think the customer
would prefer to hear? Why?
- “If you give me your policy number, I’ll check your
- “I’m sorry to hear about that. Can you tell me your policy
number so that I can check the extent of your coverage?”
The second response clearly shows sympathy for the customer’s
problem, and phrases like Can you
tell me ?
are softer and more polite than If you give ? I’ll ...
To show empathy, you could use
the following phrases:
- I understand ...
- I’m sorry ...
- I can appreciate what you’re
- I’m afraid ...
- Certainly ...
- I can see how you’d be upset
- I would be upset too
- I can hear that you’re
- I understand your concern
Come up with some more empathetic responses to the following
- Customer: “Hi, I was in
here yesterday buying some CDs and I noticed last night that my
wallet was missing. I’m not sure what I’ve done with it. Did anyone
happen to find a lost wallet?”
Staff: “I check for
- Customer: “Excuse me,
I’m vegetarian but I’ve noticed there’s nothing on the menu that I
can eat. Would it be possible to have some steamed rice and
Staff just stares and has no response and then says, “Sorry ah,
- Customer: “I brought my
car in to have it fixed yesterday. It got smashed in an accident.
I’m calling to see if it’s ready.”
Staff: “I check for
Here are some possible answers:-
- I’m sorry you’ve lost
your wallet, it must be
very frustrating./ What
does your wallet look
- You’re vegetarian?
That’s interesting./ What
kind of food do you like?
/Let me see what we can do
- I’m sorry to hear you
had an accident. At least you seem to be all right. You weren’t injured, were you?/ Can you just tell
me your name so that I can see if your car’s ready yet?
As mentioned in previous articles, the words you stress also add
impact to what you say. Read the sentences out loud with stress on
the words in bold. Remember, stressed words are a little louder and
in a slightly higher pitch. The tone of your voice is crucial. A
flat tone with no stress will show boredom and lack of interest in
the concerns of the customer.
Perring is Director, Professional Development Unit (PDU), at the
British Council Malaysia. The PDU offers a wide range of learning
opportunities from management and communication skills training to
developing English skills. Visit it at www.britishcouncil.org.my
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.