Karen Purves advises limo operators to choose their words wisely when dealing with customers and employees.The key to apologizing is a simple, straightforward statement: “I’m sorry for…” This takes responsibility for specific actions.
2013 ILCT SHOW SEMINAR SERIES: How to prevent customers and employees from jumping ship.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Believe it or not, one word can make the difference between a repeat customer and a one-time fling — so choose your words wisely.
Early in Karen Purves’ seminar on how to speak intelligently and effectively, she referenced a quote by American poet and author, Maya Angelou, that could very well be the mantra for any limo company: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If it’s true that clients pay operators to feel a certain way, not just to get from point A to point B, then a good deal of that feeling comes from the tone of your communication. Saying the same thing in a different way can help you achieve more effective results, Purves said, whether your goal is generating greater loyalty among clients or retaining staff.
A simple twist of your words can make clients feel at ease, get employees to be more responsive, or make you happier. Purves had a plethora of simple tips on how to say what you need to say.
Don’t Say “Can’t”
When a client requests a service that you don’t provide, don’t say, “I can’t help you.” Saying “can’t” actually causes a negative physiological reaction, and immediately they don’t like you. Instead of saying “can’t,” find something that you can do. “Actually, I can help you this way…” which also handily replaces the negative word “no” with the neutral word, “actually.”
Always Have the Time
Never say, “I don’t have the time.” Rather, tell a client, “You are important and I’ll be able to speak with you tomorrow morning.”
When we don’t meet someone’s expectations that person expects a certain response. The key to apologizing is a simple, straightforward statement: “I’m sorry for…” This takes responsibility for specific actions. Also, avoid the more ambivalent, “I apologize” or using the word “we” to diffuse responsibility. A true apology is personal.
It’s Soooo Hard
Saying, “It’s hard,” hurts our ability to do something. “It will decrease the likelihood of a successful outcome,” she said. Replace this fatalistic phrase with the more affirmative term, “challenge,” and your brain will be up for it.
I Have To/I Need To
“I have to pay the bills.” That kind of language actually can kill you, putting strain on your carotid arteries, she said. “Every time we say the phrase, ‘I have to’ or ‘I need to,’ there is actually pressure on our vascular system.” The truth is that there are consequences for not doing something, but you don’t have to do it. “The sun still comes up,” she said. So instead, choose or want to do something, and feel better about it.
“Why?” can be a confrontational word when used without consideration. Often, when we ask, “Why did you do this?” we’re not really concerned with the answer. “You don’t really want to know the answer, you want them to change behavior,” Purves said. And the other person tends to get aggressive when they hear that stinging “Why.” Purves suggested replacing “why” with “what” or “how,” as in, “What is the reason the car was left out of the garage?” This way the person can answer from a more positive place and not feel ambushed.