Eight Phrases Every Customer Wants to Hear

Americans are willing to spend more money with companies they believe offer excellent customer service as the U.S. economy strengthens. That's according to a survey conducted by American Express. But surprisingly, the same survey found consumers aren't finding the level customer service they expect. Six in 10 Americans believe businesses haven't increased their focus on providing good customer service and 26 percent of this group thinks companies pay less attention to customer service.

Once these customers get angry about the level of service they receive, 74 percent ask to speak to a supervisor, 44 percent hang up the phone and 39 percent threaten to switch to a competitor.

Guest writer Taia Cesana, from East Coast Auto Salvage, Inc., received such terrible customer service she made it a point to be proactive with her staff. Glenn Clarke, from Peconic Auto Wreckers, Inc., has earned a huge customer following because he guarantees no-hassle service.

Keep your customers happy, and keep them coming back, with these words that let them know you care about their business.

• Good Morning. Acknowledge a customer as soon as you see them. This seems basic, but all too often is forgotten. Nothing says "I don't care about you" more than a total disregard for someone's presence.

• How Can I Help? Customers want to explain what they need. This open-ended question begins the dialogue on a positive note and invites discussion. It also lets the customer know the employee has a desire to make things right.

• Thank You. A word of thanks is the smallest, but one of the most important, things you can do to show your customers you care. When it's missing, people tend to notice, especially when they are giving you money.

• My Pleasure. This response makes customers feel as though they are at a luxury establishment. It helps distinguish your company from others.

• I Understand. When people get upset, they want to know their feelings are justified. They also want people to understand why they are upset and "I understand" is an empathy phrase. Many concerns can be diffused with, "I understand."

• I'm Sorry. These words hold weight, whether something is your fault or not. Some employees may think these words place blame, but "sorry" is more about recognizing the customer's feelings. It also acknowledges the hassle and is a positive trigger word that is genuine.

• For You. These two words just personalize service. Instead of stating, "I'll check to see if we have that part," use "I'll check to see if we have that part for you." It creates a connection between employee and customer.

• Their Name. This is another great way to personalize the interaction between customer and business. Addressing a customer by name gives the impression of caring and approachable service.

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