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The Ace Up Your Sleeve – “What I Can Do Is…”

Why it’s vitally important your Customer Service teams are well equipped to handle situations when they don’t know the answer straightaway.

Having appropriate language and action skills at the fingertips of everyone in your Customer Service team will give your people time to find the very best solution to manage the myriad of new and different requests that come thick and fast every day from customers. With challenges still evident across the UK’s Customer Service workforce and working practice still not fully adapted and quite where it needs to be, it’s vital that we move on from the caveats, excuses and reasons for a limited service and equip our people with the skills and toolsets to respond to customers positively and correctly, especially when they don’t know the answer straightaway. 

Removing doubt and uncertainty

In essence, your Customer Service teams need to be able to say and demonstrate clearly in the first instance what action they are able to take instead of giving any hint of doubt or uncertainty to set the wheels in motion for a positive solution, to any request or question that comes their way.  Equipping your people with the ability to respond positively and efficiently will give your customers confidence and truly can be the ace up your sleeve.

Positive action builds trust and commitment

First and foremost, customers want answers and an efficient way forward when contacting customer service teams and are not interested in hearing excuses and reasons why their query is tricky or might be a problem for you. Any hint that they are not going to get what they want could rapidly push them, and you, into a negative and uncomfortable place where successful outcomes are compromised.  What they are looking for is simple, tangible and perfectly reasonable; they want to see and feel commitment that you’ll give them a good solution and genuinely want to help by taking ownership of the issue, and to know without doubt that they can trust you to get a satisfactory outcome as quickly as possible.

The immediate response they receive will set the tone for the entire transaction and the right communication is therefore vital for a positive and efficient experience and outcome.  The power of positive communication is proven; by starting on the positive, we are more receptive, open to solutions and more able to listen – all vital components of any conversation with someone who is looking for answers.  Where uncertainty exists, making sure the answers we give are really clear and concise will build confidence in the information we are sharing.

Clear messaging


So, how do you achieve this?  Customer teams who are equipped with clear language skills and tools to enable them to respond with positive communication from the outset will continue to build strong customer relationships, show they are respectful of the customer’s time and needs and clearly demonstrate that they can and will find the right solutions in spite of any additional obstacles they might be facing behind the scenes.

This is what I CAN do for you

With many people still operating from home with potential limits on technology and no colleagues to instantly turn to for collaboration and advice, there can be real challenges to overcome that could become inhibitors to productivity, motivation and engagement.

Imagine, then, having some powerful tools and techniques in your skillset that allow you to take control and ownership of any such situation with confidence and capability, so that the customer is instantly assured there is a clear and thorough process in place that will enable you to resolve their issue in a positive and timely manner.  Simply asking yourself ‘what can I do to craft a positive response?’ truly is the ace up your sleeve, even if it is merely saying to the customer “let me check and find out for you”.

Clear, proactive language

Here at MGI Learning we call this Action Language.  Always clear and proactive, it’s part of a suite of tools that underpin our overarching ethos of having positive communication at the heart of everything we think, feel, say and do across all aspects of our lives.  We know that having a positive, optimistic mindset and the ability to respond with positive language and actions to challenging issues, feedback and even complaints is absolutely key to a successful and thriving Customer Service operation and happy, productive staff, which in turn leads through to truly memorable and successful outcomes for our customers.

Reinforcing tools and templates

Good positive communication training programmes can provide a strategic and easily accessible framework to influence the conversation towards positive outcomes.  The tools and skills are designed to ensure your people avoid falling into the trap of creating false hope or doubt with a poorly worded response that’s unclear, open ended and could easily lead to confusion, misinformation or disappointment further down the line.  A good training programme will provide templates to guide and strengthen positive responses and communication and to reinforce the right way forward as a broad brushstroke. It’s also important that responses allow the service giver’s personality to shine through; they should never be robotic or scripted. Giving flexible templates for responses will empower every team member with a structure upon which they can layer their thinking, applying the language they feel most comfortable with to suit each individual case so that they can demonstrate sincerity, empathy and authenticity.

Avoiding doubt and false hope

When confronted with situations where they simply don’t know the answer straightaway, it’s important to avoid falling into the trap of inappropriate language that will either create doubt or unjustified, misplaced optimism such as  “I don’t think we will be able to”, “I’m not sure”, “I doubt that will be possible”, creating doubt and conversely “That should be ok”, “I think that will probably be fine”, “I’ll check”, “I’ll do my best” or “It might be possible” creating potential false hope. 

People will almost always hear what they want to hear, and this sort of ambiguous language will lead them to hear “That’s not possible” when it might be or  “Yes, it can be done” when it might not be possible– so that if it transpires a little later that the solution implied is actually the opposite – possible or not possible after all, the customer is likely to become angry and disappointed, unable to listen and engage any further and potentially ready to walk away from your business. Positive, proactive language and communication coupled with an optimal mindset is always the best way forward.

Positive, proactive communication = successful outcomes and happy customers

A simple example of a positive, action-led response when you don’t know the answer straight away is: “Let me see how I can help.  May I ask you a few questions?  Let me check with my colleague“, “I can certainly find out for you”.  This instantly gives your customer confidence that you are considering all the facts you need in a sensible manner and will take action immediately to move the issue forward to a positive outcome. 

As soon as we grasp the simple fact that the customer wants to hear what we can do for them and has no interest in excuses and caveats – we embark on a process that propels ourselves, and our customers, into a positive, proactive state.  Investing in a robust, well-rounded and proven training programme will equip your people with the language and communication skills and ability to act positively and effectively with confidence and commitment every time, whatever comes their way.  This skillset will give them the advantage of a hugely competitive edge and can truly be the ace up their sleeve that powers your business to greater success and productivity.

Positive 1st communication is central to MGI’s eLearning Mindset, Language and Actions Toolkit.  See how we can help your people to thrive here.

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