Over the past few weeks we've been highlighting some of the things a sales person never say to a customer, as listed by service expert and former retail proprietor Bob Johnson in Appliance Retailer magazine. So far we've covered You'll have to, I can't and I don't know – here is the next phrase you should never say: "I understand how you feel".
As Elmer Fudd would say: “Be vewy, vewy careful” telling a customer you understand how they feel — especially when handling difficult or complaining customers — because you can’t possibly feel what they are feeling.
For example, you are not the person sitting at home in 42° heat because the air conditioning installation didn’t happen. You’re not the person who has to pacify the family because the new flatscreen TV stopped working.
Unconsciously throwing in “I understand how you feel” can result in the exact opposite of what you were trying to achieve. Instead of calming them down or making them feel better, you further antagonise them.
Avoid negative reactions by acknowledging the customers ‘feelings’ or emotions, for example:
• “I can see why you would be disappointed about that…”
• “I imagine that was very frustrating for you…”
• “That must have been really annoying…”
The beauty of this technique is that when the customer responds to statements like these with “Yes, I was very disappointed,” or “It was more than frustrating,” et cetera, you are actually helping them to be assertive — which is much easier to deal with than aggression.
The complete list of phrases you should never say to a customer were published in two parts across the February and March issues of Appliance Retailer magazine – both are currently available.