Friday, June 25, 2010

Don't say these words to a Customer

We all have little phrases that can drive us crazy. This is one of mine - the phrase "we can't do that." Not to be confused with the Beatles song "You Can't Do That" but a service rep basically telling me, "sorry pal you're out of luck."

Recently I walked into a well known tire store in the East Bay to have a tire replaced which was damaged. I had only purchased it a little over a month ago. I asked for it to be replaced with no charge since I had purchased four at the time but was told, "we can't do that" it is over thirty days since you bought them. I then asked what about a discount and was told "well you did not buy the warranty." Alright fine I said let's get this fixed. It got me thinking how often we hear that statement in public - and how abrasive it is to hear as a customer. (Excuse me, but I don't "have to" do anything special for a customer.!) They could have easily given me a discount and speeded up the tire changing, but it took over an hour.

Most of us probably don't say "we can't do that" out of rudeness. We say it because we are trying to protect company policy or set expectations with a customer. But when you examine the meaning of this statement literally, you can see where it breeds a lot of customer resentment right off the bat:

-It tells another person what to do.
-It implies that you have the power in this transaction, not them.
-It doesn't give the customer options.


Perhaps the best example of an alternative to "what we can do" came when my car was in an auto shop at Oakland Auto Care in Oakland. Instead of saying the obvious it will be done tomorrow, you'll have to pick it up then," the technician said, "We will try very hard to finish it by this evening.!" When they called me and said it was ready at six I was happy as a clam and had someone take me there to pick it up.

So look critically at times where you are tempted to say "we can't do that" to customers, and start rehearsing new responses that speak to your customers' interests. The difference will be amazing !

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