Customer Service Dos and Don’ts

  • Post last modified:15 January 2022
  • Reading time:17 mins read

What are Customer Service Dos and Don’ts?

Every day customer service representatives face situations when what they say makes or breaks a service interaction. Below are ten phrases that should never be used because they frustrated anger customers.

Words not Say

  1. “No.”
  2. “I don’t know.”
  3. “That’s not my job./That’s not my department.”
  4. “You are right – that is bad”
  5. “Calm down.”
  6. “I’m busy right now.”
  7. “Call me back.”
  8. “That’s not my fault.”
  9. “You need to talk to my supervisor.”
  10. “You want it by when?”

Ten Major Customer Service Dos and Don’ts

These are the ten major customer service dos and don’ts which will be discussed below:

  1. No
  2.  I don’t Know
  3. That’s not My Job/That’s not My Department
  4. You’re Right/That is bad
  5. Calm Down
  6. I’m Busy Right Now
  7. Call me Back
  8. That’s not My Fault
  9. You Need to Talk to My Superviso
  10. You Want it by When?

No

Everyone hates the word “no”. It is de-motivating, discouraging, and disinteresting. You will hear this word throughout your life as a customer and as a service provider. “No” is tantamount to “bad service.” “No” is easy, cheap, unproductive and negative – it means failure.

Unfortunately, “no” is the word we most often hear when a new idea, request or concept is introduced. Admittedly, there are times when you will have to say “no,” but focus on what you can do for the customer (accentuate the positive) and not the negatives of the situation. Better to say “What I can do is…” and demonstrate that you care and want to provide quality service despite your current limitations.

I don’t Know

Good service means never saying, “I don’t know.” When a customer hears “I don’t know,” they hear, “I don’t feel like finding the information you need.” Better to say, “I’ll find out” or “Let me look into this and get back to you as soon as possible.

That’s not My Job/That’s not My Department

When a customer asks you to do something that you do not know how to do or do not have the authority to do, become a catalyst by leading the customer to the person or department who can help him/her solve the problem. Better to say, “Let me transfer to the person who can immediately help you will this problem.”

You’re Right/That is bad

Many inexperienced customer service representatives think by sympathizing with the customer’s plight, he/they will win over the customer rather than actually doing something to solve the customer’s problem. If a customer expresses annoyance or frustration, do not make it worse by commiserating with him/her. Empathize with the customer but seek to solve the problem.

Likewise, it does not do your company or organization any good to criticize co-workers or other departments within the company or to the customers. All interested parties end up looking unprofessional and inept.

Rather try your best to accommodate the customer. Do not promise anything you cannot deliver but do try to serve the customer well. Better to say, “I understand your frustration, let’s see how we can solve this problem.”

Calm Down

When customers are upset or angry let them vent (within reason) and they will eventually calm down. Telling them to “calm down” is belittling, and often serves only to infuriate them further. Better to say, “I’m sorry.”

This is one of the ideal phrases for customer service – it helps to placate the angriest of customers and allows you to begin the process of solving a customer complaint or request and “meet him/her half way.” Apologizing does not mean you agree with the customer but it is a means to empathize and move beyond the emotion of the moment and negative impact.

I’m Busy Right Now

It is not easy to juggle customers. You are often helping one customer when another calls or visits your service area. Asking a customer to be patient or politely asking them to wait is very different from putting them off and saying you are too busy to help.

Leaving them standing there or on hold is two of the mortal sins of customer service. “Being too busy” is tantamount to saying that you do not care and they are not important. Let the customer know they are important and you are aware of their presence. Better to say, “I’ll be with you in one moment” or “Please hold and I’ll be right with you.”

Call me Back

This expression conveys little interest on the part of the customer relation’s employee for the needs and wants of the customer. You should always call the customer back because you want their business and are responsive to their requests. Being proactive is part of good customer service.

That’s not My Fault

If an angry customer accuses you of creating a problem, rightly or wrongly, the natural reaction is to defend oneself. However, this is not the best course of action. The customer has a problem that needs to be solved.

By resisting the need to defend yourself, and focusing on the needs of the customer, you can resolve the problem faster and with less stress and confrontation. Better to say, “Let’s see what we can do about this problem.”

You Need to Talk to My Superviso

This cliché of bad customer service has angered and frustrated customers for decades. Customers often ask for things outside the scope of your work or authority – maybe even outside the services/products provided by your company.

While passing off these requests to your manager is a tempting option, it is better if you attempt to solve the problem yourself or directly go to the supervisor yourself and get a solution. You become a service hero for the customer and the supervisor. Better to say, “Let me find that out for you.”

You Want it by When?

Customers often make unrealistic demands, especially when it comes to time. Your first reaction may be an annoyance and you may want to make a snide or sarcastic comment.

However, the best approach is to hold off on displaying a negative attitude and making a poor impression. Better to say, “I will call you right back after I find out if that is feasible.”

Helpful Reminders for Polite and Friendly Responses

Wrong ApproachPolite and Friendly Alternative
“I don’t know.”“I’ll find out.”
“No.”“What I can do is…”
“That’s not my job.”“Let me find the right person who can help you with ..”
“You’re right – this is bad.”“I understand your frustrations.”
“That’s not my fault.”“Let’s see what we can do about this.”
“You want it by when?”“I’ll try my best.”
“Calm down.”“I’m sorry.”
“I’m busy right now.”“I’ll be with you in just a moment.”
“Call me back.”“I will call you back, what is your Telephone number”
Helpful Reminders for Polite and Friendly Responses

How to Handle Customer Complaints

Many business owners see complaint management as a time-consuming and frustrating process. However, by developing an efficient system, complaints can be resolved quickly and easily. These are important points of how to handle customer complaints:

  1. Taking the Complain
  2. Finding a Solution
  3. Useful Tips for Dealing with Complaints
  4. Communicating with the Unsatisfied Customer

Taking the Complain

  1. When a customer first makes a complaint, take a step back: It can be difficult to remain impassive in the face of criticism, but an emotional response will only serve to irritate the customer further.

  2. Give the customer your full attention and listen to the whole problem before responding: Put yourself in their shoes – if you had a problem, you would want someone to listen to you. Appearing disinterested, or attempting to argue back, will only exacerbate the situation.

  3. Don’t jump the gun; You might deal with complaints on a regular basis, and may well have handled a similar situation before. However, for the customer, their complaint is unique to them. Treat them as an important individual by listening to their problem in full.

  4. Try to understand: In the face of a complaint, it’s easy to be defensive – particularly if you don’t believe you’re at fault. However, you have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you were on the receiving end of their experience, would you personally be satisfied?

  5. Always use your initiative when dealing with complaints. If the blame lies with one particular member of staff, it is often best to remove the customer from their presence. This can defuse tension and emotion, and help the customer to re-evaluate their anger.

  6. However, never pass the customer around from person to person: Each complaint should ideally be handled by one staff member. Therefore, you should always ensure that the person assigned to the case has the authority to deal with the situation.

Finding a Solution

  1. Once the customer has aired their grievance, you should immediately give a sincere apology: Any number of factors could have contributed to the issue, and you might not be at fault. However, you need to take responsibility for the problem. Sometimes, an apology is all it takes to placate an angry customer.

  2. Customers never want to hear excuses: However, you are fully entitled to briefly explain why they didn’t receive the standard of service they expected. This should take place after you’ve listened to their complaint and made an apology.

  3. Sometimes, a complaint will be followed by a request for compensation: Typically a refund or a voucher. However, customers often haven’t planned beyond making the initial complaint. In these cases, ask the customer for their desired outcome. This makes them feel both involved and valued.

Useful Tips for Dealing with Complaints

  1. Try to remain calm when dealing with a complaint: Even if the customer becomes irate or confrontational. Your ultimate aim is to turn their negative experience into a positive one, but arguing back will only make the situation worse.

  2. Complaints should always be resolved as quickly as possible: The aim is to make the customer feel as though their problem is being treated as a priority, without being rushed.

  3. Keep comprehensive records of all customer complaints, from the initial problem to the eventual solution: You can then periodically assess these records, identifying any common complaints, and taking steps to improve company processes.

All customer-facing staff members should be trained to deal with complaints. If possible, give your employees some authority when it comes to issuing refunds or other consolatory gestures. Forcing the customer to wait for a manager can make a bad situation worse.

Communicating with the Unsatisfied Customer

How many times have you as a customer run into the problem of excuses? There is a problem and the salesperson, technician or customer service representative is making lame excuses, namely:

  • It is the fault of the computer.
  • It is the fault of the other sales clerk.
  • It is the fault of the chief of the department.
  • It is the fault of the system.
  • It is the fault of the Government.
  • It is just the way it is

Sometimes it feels as if nothing is anybody’s fault or is in anybody’s department. This is poor customer service. Good customer service means accountability, responsibility and taking action to satisfy the customer


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