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Magic Customer Service Words - Part 2

This is the second of four articles on Magic Customer Service Words.  In this series, we’re exploring “Positive” and “Negative” language – magic customer service words and phrases that can trigger positive or negative responses with customers.  Here are the next two: (To see the three other articles in the series, visit Part 1, Part 3, Part 4 )


“What if you tried…”

When a customer is having a challenge that you can’t fix, you have to be careful that you don’t inadvertently send the message that you just don’t care.  You certainly don’t want to just say “We can’t do that,” without offering some potential solutions.

But even when you’re trying to help, you have to use care in how you present it.  You don’t, for example, want to start your sentence with, “Why didn’t you…?”  This can trigger a defensive response, as it implies that the other person made a conscious decision to reject this option.

Using the phrase “What if you tried…”, e.g.: “What if you tried seeing if a plumber has a solution?” invites discussion instead of dissension.  You can even make it more collaborative by changing the “you” to “we.”



“You’re going to have to,” or “yergunnahafta” as it’s most often pronounced, is one of the most common phrases you’ll hear in business:  “Yergunnahafta talk to my manager.” “Yergunnahafta fill out these forms,” “Yergunnahafta come back on Monday,” etc.  Yergunnahafta is a directive.  It’s an order. The message is “We have rules around here, and if you want to be one of our customers, you’d better follow them.”

When you watch and listen to interactions between service providers and customers, you can almost always see a change in the customer after this phrase is used.  It is easily the most common trigger for turning a simple issue to turn into a confrontation.

A Better Way

What’s a better approach than saying “Yergunnahafta?” The secret is to always frame your statement in terms of what is in your customer’s best interests. So, for example, instead of saying, “Yergunnahafta talk to the manager,” say something like, “My manager is going to be able to help you best with this…”

Check out the 3rd installment of Magic Customer Service Words.

Reprinted with permission from the Winning at Work newsletter

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