BAD scripts = MAD customers!

We’ve all had it happen. We’re talking to a customer service agent, for a few seconds only, before we realize that we’re talking with a robot. The agent is obviously reading from a script, so he’s truly not listening. As customers, this is maddening to us.  As providers of customer service, what are we to do? Do we allow our service team members to behave differently and say whatever they please? Of course not! But, we have to reach some middle ground, too.  As I described in last week’s post, Part II — Customer Service Scripts: Help or Hindrance?, scripts are an essential part of successful customer service. And some key phrases work better than others.

Real World Story:  Recently, my husband called our cellular telephone service provider – for the fifth time – to report an ongoing problem.bored call center lady By this fifth call, my husband was irate. The customer service agent kept repeating the following phrase: “I understand how you feel, sir.” To which my husband would reply, “No, you bleeping don’t understand how I feel, so stop saying that.” This is a perfect example of a script that just does not work—especially when service agents repeat it with sarcasm and disinterest.

Here’s one of the many problems:  most customer service agents are taught that when a customer finishes yelling at you, you’re supposed to be empathetic. Agents are taught to say, “I understand how you feel.” However, this statement makes customers extremely angry and causes them to yell back, “Oh no, you don’t.” Also, if not said with meaning, the statement will sound uncaring and robotic. So, some scripts obviously work better than others. And when they don’t work, it’s time to make a change.

Here are more examples of bad key phrases and good alternatives.

BAD Scripts:                                                             Good Scripts

  • It’s our policy.  _______________   Here’s what we can do…
  • That’s not my job. _____________  Let me find someone who can help.
  • No.      ______________________  Yes.
  • I can’t. ______________________ Let me find someone who can.
  • BUT… _______________________  AND…
  • Calm down.   _________________  I can see how frustrating this is for you.
  • I understand how you feel.  _______ I can see why you feel that way.
  • You misunderstood. _________ There must have been a misunderstanding.
  • I’m not allowed to do that.________  Let me see what I CAN do.
  • That’s all we can do.  ____________ What can we do to make this right?

The word “but” tends to be problematic because it negates everything that comes before it. For example: “You’re absolutely right, but that’s how we do it here.” Or “I understand how you feel, but that’s our policy.” One of the few times it’s ok to use the word “but” is when it follows a negative. For example: “It’s not our policy to do that, but let me see what I CAN do for you.” Or “This might take a while, but I’m going to get a solution that you’re going to really like. “ You can hear the difference, can’t you? Are you starting to get the hang of this?

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Always tell customers what you CAN do, not what you can’t.
  2. Be careful of using the work “but.” Instead, replace it with silence or the word “and.”
  3. When you state understanding or empathy, mean it!

What scripts work and don’t work for you? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

2 Responses to “BAD scripts = MAD customers!”


  1. 1 Android Mobile May 27, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they just do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined
    out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal.
    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks


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