You Had Me at Hello: 8 Phrases Every Customer Longs to Hear

By Tricia Morris, Published November 29, 2013,

You Had Me at Hello: 8 Phrases Every Customer Longs to Hear image hadmeathello

Via the web, your customers now complete thousands of transactions and purchases on their own without any support from your brand. Many even find the answers to their own customer service questions by using your website’s self-service knowledgebase or simply Googling their question or issue. So when customers do reach out, they’re usually truly in need of someone’s help; they usually need or want it quickly; and they’re typically a bit emotional about their service interaction already, be it frustrated, angry, worried, anxious, etc.

In Accenture’s 2013 Global Consumer Pulse Survey, 82% of customers that switched brands due to poor customer service said the company could have done something to prevent them from switching. The number one thing? First contact resolution. While every customer service issue can’t be solved on the first try, here are eight “you had me at hello” phrases every customer longs to hear:

1. To speak to a customer service representative, press one. This might not be the most meaningful customer service phrase until you’ve spent ten minutes trapped in an IVR that doesn’t provide the option to get to an actual person. Then, this is the phrase you long to hear.

2. Thank you for contacting us. How may I help you? While it should be a standard in every greeting, many brands no longer thank the customer upon first contact, but these two little words serve a greater purpose in providing not just an appreciative welcome to a customer who may not feel very appreciated after a long wait, but getting the conversation and the customer experience started off on the right foot.

3. I can take care of that for you. Considering that three of the top six global customer service frustrations have to do with passing the buck (1. having to contact a company multiple times for the same reason / 2. having to repeat the same information to multiple CSRs or across multiple channels / 3. dealing with employees or self-service sites that cannot answer my question), this phrase signaling first contact resolution is golden.

4. I don’t know, but I will find out. See #3. Customers will appreciate the honesty in this response, but more so, that the CSR is willing to take the time and the responsibly to find the answer.

5. Allow me to stay on the line with you. Whether it’s to make sure the issue is resolved, to talk you through online setup or support, or when a customer must be transferred to another department to make sure that the transfer goes through, having a CSR take the next step with a customer to see an interaction through is an increasingly rare but meaningful gesture.

6. I’m sorry. These words aren’t an admission of fault, but rather a very human admission that your brand cares that the customer is having a bad day, is experiencing a problem or can’t find an answer or resolution to their problem as quickly as they’d like. According to the 2011 National Customer Rage Study, when customers became truly angry during a customer service interaction, what did they really want? It wasn’t a refund or something for free. Ninety percent (90%) said they wanted to be treated with dignity. Only 40% said they were.

7. It’s my pleasure. “No worries.” “Not a problem.” “You’re welcome.” “Yep.” There’s a reason why Chick-fil-A uses the phrase “my pleasure.” These two little words convey delight. Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy, was inspired to institute the phrase after a visit to the Ritz Carlton. When Cathy said “thank you” to front desk representative, the response was “my pleasure.” Even though his business served fast food, Cathy felt it important to reply to his customers as if they were at a luxury establishment.

8. I see you’ve been a customer for a long time. We appreciate that. This is where your customer data comes in and pays off. Customers want to be recognized for their loyalty, and when your brand makes note of it, it’s meaningful.

The last thing most customers want to hear is an automated message, a long-winded explanation of why their customer service transaction cannot be completed, or that they have to move to or be transferred to another channel or CSR to complete their request. Delight them with one of the eight phrases above during your brand’s next customer service interaction.