How to Use Positive Communication in Customer Service
If you were put into a huge magnet that can monitor the neural changes happening in your brain and flash the word "no" for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones.
These hormones immediately influence the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing and communication. You don’t want that for your customers, do you?
People are under enough stress in today’s world. If you want to win their heart and business, you should be the one who takes their stress away. Make them feel comfortable around you, while doing business with you. Make them want to come back. A good way to do that is by focusing on using positive language in customer service.
Words have that power. They can help you create a long, trustful relationship with customers.
I guess I could give you a few positive phrases that you should learn and even pin a printed version to your workspace. But you will only use them in perfect conditions, like no stress at work and casual situations with customers. Basically when you have a stable mindset and you don’t experience any tension.
But whenever things will go tough and stressful, like dealing with angry customer or having a hard time in your life, you’d go back to your original behaviors – which in this case is using a negative communication. Because it’s all in the mindset.
That’s why in order to start communicating in a positive way, you need to learn to think positive first.
In this post I want to help you perceive different situations in customer service in a better way which will help you create positive thoughts and phrases.
"I don’t know"
Ok, so YOU DON’T KNOW! Don’t make a big deal out of it. Thoughts like “my job is to know it by now” are rushing through your head. Maybe you should know it by now, maybe you forgot, maybe you haven’t learnt it yet. Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing the answer. It’s not worth it and it doesn’t change anything. A support rep is hired to have the tenacity to make things right and to care, not to be a walking knowledge base.
“I don’t know the answer” doesn’t help customers and to be honest - they’re not interested in hearing it. They don’t care how long you are working in your company, or that you’re still in your onboarding phase. They can show you some empathy but at the end they just want to get the answer. So if you don’t know, your job is to find out.
A customer asks if the price for the vacation includes the transfer from the hotel to the beach. Here’s what you can answer:
- I don’t know, I don’t think so.
- Good question, let me find out that for you right now!
It might sound harsh but customers needs are more important than your current situation. Let them know that it doesn’t matter that you don’t know the answer right now, because you’ll do whatever you can to find out as soon as you can.
“Can’t” is another negative word on our list. “I can’t do it”, “I can’t get you it”: unfortunately these phrases are used too often in customer service. But the good news is that they have great potential to be changed into positive communication. Whenever you don’t know how to do something, treat it like an opportunity to learn. I know it’s easier said than done, but reframing your words can help you change the perspective.
A customer comes to you with a new case which you have no idea how to solve. Depending on what you will think, your answer will differ. Here’s what you can say:
- I can’t solve this case
- I can learn to solve it.
Isn’t option B uplifting? By taking the positive attitude in this situation, whatever you will say to the client will have a positive undertone. It’s the “I can do anything” attitude and it makes you believe that you can solve the case. Customers can sense it and they will feel secure and relaxed. On the other hand, the first option makes customers become stressed along with you.
“It’s not available right now”
Nobody likes to hear this one. But you’re a service rep and it’s not your fault that the item is not available in the stock, so you might as well say it to a customer, right? Wrong! When you can’t provide something customers want, place emphasis on the solution. That’s the only thing they care about.
A customer asks for a product that is not in stock. You can answer:
- We don’t have this item and it won’t be available for about 2 weeks, until the next supply.
- This product will be available within two weeks. I can place your order and make sure it will be sent to you as soon as it gets to us.
Instead of using words like “I can’t get that for you”, “it’s not available”, provide the closest alternative. Think about solutions because that’s what customers are interested to hear.
Obviously there are other phrases you use during possible situations that happen in customer service. I can’t mention them all. But if you want to work on positive communication, here’s how you can practice it on a daily basis.
1. Review what you’ve wrote or said
This solution is good for you if you work on chat or email. Also when your conversations with customer through phone are recorded. If so, you can go through your online communication and look for negative words you’ve used such as: can’t, don’t, won’t, no. Now, rewrite and reframe these sentences in a more positive context. Example:
I don’t know how to swim -> I can learn how to swim
2. Read before you send a message
I know you want to help your customers as quickly as you can. But you won’t do it by saying “no” and “can’t” in every few sentences. Review everything you write, before you send a message to a customer. Replace negative sentences if needed.
Written communications are the easiest place to start building a positive communication. You can practice in your emails, chats, blog posts and social media updates.
3. Active listening
You don’t have to correct your customers or teach them what you know. You can learn a lot by listening. As you listen, try to identify negative speech, how it makes you feel and think how it could be said better.
4. Monitor you own speech
If you catch yourself using negative phrases, stop right there. Give yourself some time and reframe your statements in a positive term. Then start again. It might be weird stopping in the middle of the sentences and it might make people wonder what is it that you’re doing… but tell them.
Explain that you want to develop a more positive outlook, starting with the way you speak. People will be intrigued, some may laugh at you, but a few may join you.
The power of YES
To overcome the negativity, we must generate as many positive thoughts as we can. Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, discovered that we need to generate at least three positive thoughts and feelings for each expression of negativity.
So once you identified a negative thought, reframe it and focus on using positive words.
It will probably take a while until it becomes second nature to you. But creating positive communication with customers is definitely worth it.