Words Matter

Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—It’s the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

The words we use can convey more than we think. It’s worth taking a moment to choose your words carefully—especially the phrases we use every day.

One phrase that customer service people often fall into is “No problem.” Sounds harmless enough, right? But that phrase turns a lot of people off because “No problem” conveys the subtle message that there might have been a problem, but lucky for the customer, you are willing and able to help them. But who knows about the next request they make? That might be a problem.

Even if you don’t mean it this way, it can sound like you’re doing the customer a favor by doing your job. The message is subtle, but it’s there.

Now consider the difference if you say, “I’d be delighted to do that for you!” Now you haven’t just avoided a problem—you’ve leapt at the chance to make sure they are happy. That’s a message worth sending.

Tape a small piece of paper to the desk by your phone or at the edge of your computer monitor—wherever your eyes are likely to fall on it naturally during a call—with the words “I’d be happy to!” or “I’d be delighted!” It takes a little effort to drop a habit, but once you do, the new habit will become just as automatic as the old one.

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