Friday, January 26, 2007

Sorry Service vs. Thankful Service

Imagine you’re waiting in line at the airport.

A really LONG line.

BAD NEWS: you’ve missed your connecting flight. There’s no way you’ll make it to your meeting on time.

After about twenty-five frustrating minutes, you finally approach the counter. You throw down your luggage, put your hands on your hips and exclaim, “You know, I’ve been waiting here for nearly half an hour!”

And the first words out of the front desk agent’s mouth are, “I’m sooooo sorry. See, what happened was…”

No.

You don’t want to hear “Sorry.”

Sorry doesn’t cut it.
Sorry doesn’t make you feel better.
Sorry doesn’t put the delicious Triscuit crackers in your stomach, now does it?

NEW RULE: customers don’t want to hear the word “Sorry.”

It’s negative.
It’s usually followed by excuses.
It’s focused on the wrong person. (i.e., NOT the customer)

A great suggestion is to replace “Sorry” with “Thanks.”

Thanking (instead of apologizing) just sounds better. And it demonstrates empathy and concern. What’s more, it immediately puts a positive spin on an otherwise negative encounter.

Let’s go back to the airport example for a minute. Which one of the following phrases would you, as the customer, rather hear?

1. “I’m sorry you’ve been waiting such a long time, Ma'am.”
2. “Thanks for waiting such a long time, Ma'am.”

My money’s on number two. And here’s why.

“Sorry” is problem-oriented. It sucks the positivity out of a conversation. In fact, it’s such a negative word that it actually elicits more of the same.

Here, I’ll prove it to you. Stop reading this article for a sec and say aloud (in your best customer service voice), “I’m so sorry you had to wait…”

Kind of hard to follow that phrase with a positive comment, isn’t it?
Kind or hard to articulate that phrase with a smile, isn’t it?

In most cases, “Sorry” is followed by more apologies, more excuses and more complaints. No good.

On the other hand, “Thanks” is solution-oriented. It plasters positivity into a conversation. In fact, it’s such an optimistic word that it actually elicits more of the same.

Once again, let me prove it to you. Stop reading this article for a sec and say aloud (in your best customer service voice), “Thank you for waiting…”

Aha! Sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?

Kind of hard to follow that phrase with a negative comment, isn’t it?
Kind of hard to articulate that phrase without a smile, isn’t it?

See, in most cases, “Thanks” is followed by more solutions, more positives and more focus on the customer.

So, instead of apologizing, here’s a quick list of ways to thank your customers:

“Thanks for waiting.”
“Thanks for your patience.”
“Thanks for telling me that.”
“Thanks for pointing that out.”
“Thanks for coming in tonight.”
“Thanks for putting up with us.”
“Thanks for bringing that to our attention.”

In closing, let’s explore Sorry Service vs. Thankful Service in a completely different context: dating.

Let’s say you’re on a hot date.

It’s almost midnight. Fearing that you will morph into a pumpkin, your date drops you off at home. And as the two of you approach the front door, he or she says one of the following things:

“I’m so sorry you had to go out with me tonight. I know I was late, and the dinner kind of sucked. And I swear to God that’s the first time I’ve ever run over someone’s cat before!”

Or.

“Thanks for going out with me tonight. I had a blast. We really connected! And I would love to do it again sometime.”

What would you rather hear?

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Do you give Sorry Service or Thankful Service?

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
What's the best example of Thankful Service you've received in 2007?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

add to del.icio.us * digg it! * email this post