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How to ensure you don't become a customer service robot

5th Oct 2015
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We’ve heard them all – from “Thank you for being a valued customer” to “I understand your frustration.” Traditional, scripted support lines not only sound inhuman, but they tend to upset customers even further.  

In today’s customer-centric world, support should still carry the core qualities – empathy, efficiency and sincerity. Rather than a generic one-liner, there are more successful (and much less robotic) ways to implement these values.

Let's examine the six customer support lines to ditch - and what to say instead.

1. Thank you for being a valued customer/Your call is very important to us

This one is so cliché it doesn't need explaining – we've all heard the canned voice recording when we call a company for support, or even general questions.

Instead try using something more personalised to your company. For example, when you call HubSpot support, they say "We've got a team of support engineers who are excited to work with you.” The best part? Their support engineers really do sound like they're excited to work with you!

2. I'm sorry you feel that way

While the intention may be to connect with your customers, it's a poor attempt at empathy and ends up doing the exact opposite. Putting the emphasis on your customer with the word “you” makes them feel attacked and sounds like you are blaming them for their feelings. While the customer is not always right, they are always the customer and deserve your respect.

Instead try to use positive words, and address their issue head-on. A simple adjustment can go a long way. A better line would be "I'm so sorry about that, let me try to make it right.”

3. I understand you're frustrated but...

Really, anything that includes the word "but" completely negates everything else you say. It also sounds like you're about to make an excuse. Customers don't want excuses; they want their issues fixed.

Instead try a better phrase such as "I'd be frustrated too, let me try to explain/fix the issue.” As with all good customer service, scripted responses simply don't work – each interaction should be personalised to the individual user on the other end of the phone/email/chat. No matter who the company or customer, in the end it's still two human beings having a conversation – so keep it human.

4. "To be honest with you..."

Wait a minute, does that mean you've been lying this whole time? Or you are normally a dishonest person? This line either makes it sound like you're about to lie or gives the impression you weren't being honest before. Neither makes a good impression.

5. "I'm sorry for the inconvenience"

This one isn’t terrible, but use sparingly. If you keep repeating this phrase, you run the risk of actually sounding like a robot.

Instead try to maintain a genuine, empathetic tone throughout the conversation.

6. We're currently experiencing a high call volume/We appreciate your patience

This phrase screams "We're having major problems with our product/service and you should be worried!” It also feels like a poor excuse for keeping you on hold for a really long time.

Instead try to simply state the expected wait time, or provide an alternative to call the customer back when the next rep is available. If you use an omnichannel customer support software, you can also provide them an online support portal or email option. Be careful with the last option, though, as you don't want your customers to think you're passing them off – many customers only phone the help desk as a last resort.

Robert C. Johnson is CEO of TeamSupport.

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By Miles Hobson
03rd Nov 2015 09:42

Love the post Robert, I'm a strong advocate of ditching the robotic customer service responses myself.

Changing these horrible go to responses is the first step but I think what is really crucial is having support agents that can let their personalities shine through the keyboard/telephone.

Each conversation must be adapted to the individual customer. We're talking about real people here, so let's have real conversations.


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