Avoid Dead-End Statements

Providing help to customers and potential clients is important, but for some tricky customer questions, there’s just no way to respond positively, right? Not so fast! The next time you feel a negative response on the tip of your tongue, try these three alternatives to common dead-end statements:

Dead end: “She’s unavailable.” Alternative: Offer to take a message. Don’t make customers ask for help — offer it before they have the chance! When the person your customer needs to reach isn’t available, always build a positive alternative into your reply:

“Mary is in meetings this afternoon, but I’ll be happy to take a message and ask her to get in touch with you!”

Dead end: “I don’t know.” Alternative: Help find the answer. Sure, it’d be great if you knew the answer to every question, but customers are more likely to be impressed by your eagerness to help than your ability to recite information. If you don’t have an answer, don’t sweat it! Instead, assure your customer you’ll look for the answer:

“That’s a great question. I’ll be happy to find the answer for you!”

“Thank you for your question! I’d love to research an answer and get back to you later today. May I return your call this afternoon?”

Dead end: “So-and-so handles that.” Alternative: Put your customer in touch with the right person. Don’t shrug a customer off just because you aren’t the best person to help in a particular situation. Instead, tell your customer where they can find the help they need, and then help them get there:

“A member of our sales staff would be delighted to help you! I’ll connect you with sales now.”

This works even if you don’t know where your customer needs to go:

“Great question! I’ll find the best person to answer it!”

“I’ll be happy to find the best person to help you, and have that person return your call.”

Bottom line: There’s no reason to respond to a customer’s question with a dead-end statement. If you put your mind to it, you can always find a way to help!

Photo via Flickr