Eric Jacobson

Four Words To Never Say To A Customer

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills on February 4, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Author Harvey MacKay wrote the following spot-on advice in his column in the Kansas City Business Journal a few years ago.  He wisely points out that all employees at every level should never use these four words in front of a client/customer for both obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons:

  • Can’t — As in, “We can’t do that.”  “We can’t meet that deadline.”  Unless you honestly cannot produce and then be honest and help them find another vendor.
  • Busy — As in, “I’ll call you when I’m not so busy.”  “I’m really busy right now.” The word “busy” gives your customer the impression they are a low priority.
  • Safe — As in, “Let’s play it safe.”  Customers typically want to engage in calculated risks versus playing it safe.
  • Fear — As in, “I fear that we may be moving too fast.”  That tells your customer you haven’t done your homework. MacKay writes, “Common sense, thorough research and sound advice should allay your fears to a reasonable level.”

Take a moment.  Are you absolutely sure every employee in sales, production, operations, marketing, etc., is not using these words, even inadvertently, in front of your customers?

Thanks for the important reminder, Harvey MacKay!

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