In the staffing industry, customer relationships can take years to build – and just seconds to ruin.

Think about it – haven’t you, at one point or another, been completely turned off by something a sales or service person has said to you?  I can certainly think of a few phrases that have irked me over the years:

“Well, that’s not my job.”
“Are you sure about that?”

and my personal favorite:

“I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

Are your front-line personnel inadvertently jeopardizing business relationships by saying things your customers DON’T want to hear?  If you’re unsure, consider this list of phrases that sound about as pleasant as fingernails on a chalkboard:

  • “That’s against our policy.”  Well, perhaps it is; but if your customers weren’t aware of your policy at the time the problem occurred, your policies make little difference to them.  When terms or conditions are the issue, try to put yourself in the client’s shoes – and find a way to fix the problem.
  • “I’m having a really tough day here,” (or any variation of this theme).  The honest truth?  Your customers rarely care about your problems – they’re depending on you to solve theirs.  A better choice is something like: “Good morning.  How can I help you today?”  That’s really all you need to say about yourself.
  • Well, that’s not my job.”  This is wrong for so many reasons.  Not only are you not solving the customer’s problem; you’re also not offering any alternatives!  Instead of “passing the buck” and passing the client off to another department, appoint yourself the client’s personal service liaison.  When possible, find the answer your client needs and act as a single point of contact.
  • “Call me if you have any other problems.”  Okay, this one isn’t horrible.  Still, if a client does have a problem with a time card, a temporary employee, or anything else, you have an opportunity to do much more than just meet their expectations.  Once you’ve resolved the problem, follow-up a few days later to make sure all is still well.  Checking back in after resolution shows that you really care – and shareworthy service like that will definitely set you apart.
  • “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”  Frankly, your customers want to know what “soon” means.  Within the hour?  The day?  The week?  Always specify a follow-up time frame for your clients.  If, when that deadline hits, you still don’t have the answer or resolution your customer needs, call him and say so – and let him know when you’ll be back in touch.

Final thought:  Consistently delivering shareworthy service means continually managing clients’ expectations effectively.  Make sure you choose your words carefully when speaking with customers, and set clear service expectations they can depend upon.

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