Retail golden rules: Don’t ever tell a customer “You’ll have to…”

Customer service expert and former electronics salesman Bob Johnson has a list of golden rules on what you should never say to a customer. Right behind the phrases “I don’t know” and “I can’t”, Johnson says one of the big clangers that retailers should never utter is the phrase, “You’ll have to…”

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“Do I? Do I really? No, I don’t! Let’s face it, I don’t have to breathe, or eat — I choose to or I need to.

“Okay, maybe it’s just me, but this one makes me bristle. Again, telling a person that they ‘have to’ do something offers them little or no choice.

“For example: ‘You’ll have to contact the supplier about that’ is horribly dismissive and not at all helpful (expect disappointment, frustration or anger from the customer).

“What if you said, ‘Okay, what we need to do with this is get you in touch with (whoever) – let me help you with that.’ The time it takes you to be helpful will most likely be less than the time it will take to explain why you can’t (or don’t want to) help.”

To read Bob Johnson’s must-know list of what not to say to customers (and how to choose more helpful phrases instead), check out the February issue of Appliance Retailer magazine.

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