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Leave Your “Buts” Behind for Great Customer Service

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Author: Ed Sykes

How many times have you heard something similar to this in a customer service situation?

Customer: "Why don't you just do it this way, and it will take care of the situation."

Customer Service Person: "I understand what you are saying, but we can to do it this way."

Then the situation magically goes downhill from there and it is difficult to win back the customer.

What Happened?

The customer service person used the one word that has a powerful negative effect when dealing with customers. The one word, if you can imagine, brings out the horns on the customer's forehead, turns his face red, tightens his teeth, and clinches his hands…the word is but.

This is because but is an exclusive word. The use of but negates everything that was said previously by the customer. The customer then feels alienated and disrespected. It says to the customer, "You discounted or ignored everything I just said and you are going on with your agenda. Well, you don't respect me, so I won't respect your solution."

The Solution

Replace the use of but with this powerful, positive word that will make the customer feel like he is are a part of the solution, put a smile on his face, and change the mood to the positive…the word is and. And is an inclusive word. If you think about it, and in math equals the function of addition. The use of and says to your customer, "I value what you just said, and we will take that into consideration as I share my solution with you."

Remember, 90% of satisfying the customer is making the customer feel like you are listening to them. The use of and says to the customer I am listening to your input.

Lets apply this to the above scenario:

Customer: "Why don't you just do it this way, and it will take care of the situation."

Customer Service Person: "I understand what you are saying, and we can to do it this way."

As you can see it is a more positive response to the customer's feedback. Instead of the customer being on the opposite side of your solution by using the word and you create a bridge for the customer to cross to consider your solutions. Bottom line, your customer is more likely to quickly accept your solutions.

So, if possible, record yourself in a conversation so that you can see where you are using but. Then work at substituting and in place of but. It may feel a little awkward at first. However, the more you use and the smoother it will sound and you will see immediate results. The benefits are less stress for you, positive customer service situations, and happier customers. Remember, leave your buts behind and you, too, will provide great customer service.

Copyright © 2004 Ed Sykes. All rights reserved
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About the author

Ed Sykes is a professional speaker, author, and success coach in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress management, customer service, and team building. You can e-mail him at, or call him at (757) 427-7032. Goto his web site,, and signup for the newsletter, OnPoint, and receive the free ebook, "Empowerment and Stress Secrets for the Busy Professional."

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