If I had a penny for every time I heard “our policy is…” I would be a rich woman. It’s a phrase that’s said far too often. And when you really think about it, it’s very helpful.
From a customer service perspective, many of us would consider it a “trigger word” – an unfriendly and unnecessary phrase guaranteed to annoy customers.
Companies may have legitimate procedures and policies in place within a business; however, when this is said, the customer just feels the shutters coming down and believe the person is hiding behind the phrase and are not interested in helping them.
Over the years I have noticed a lot of “policies and procedures” have been designed with the business in mind. They are often written by people who are experts in this area, rather than by staff who interact with clients on a daily basis.
Someone once said to me that it’s the job of all customer facing staff to take the rules, guidelines or procedures within a business and translate them into “customer speak”. Our clients need to understand the message, so we need to remove the jargon. More importantly, we need to take the message and "add the magic” so its customer friendly.
One could argue that every organisation needs a sense of order to get things done. So, we create streamlined processes with clear guidelines to make each transaction as smooth as possible for both customers and staff. This makes complete sense and works a lot of the time. Yet, we need a balance.
There are times when we can become quite blinkered. Everything seems obvious to us and we begin to see things just from the business’s perspective. The “rules” take over the way we think and operate. It creeps into our language and we become quite rigid in our day-to-day interactions with customers.
In essence, we need to understand the customer’s perspective and also realise there will always be exceptions in life. Be open to being flexible and see the grey; rather than black and white.
And whilst it’s good to adhere to the principles of the business as much as possible, we need to be mindful of the language we use when talking to customers. In other words, we must remember to add the magic.
So, next time you find yourself about to say “our policy is…”; try a different phrase and show you care. Use lots of positive language and show consideration when making recommendations. For example, a better expression might be “I understand…normally this is what we do…” OR “In these situation, this is what we need to do…” OR “I appreciate where you are coming….let me suggest…”.