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Guest Blog: Customer Service Role … Avoid these Myths on Customer Service

This week we feature an article by Mike Schoultz who shares his top 20 list of myths on customer experience not to tell yourself or things you should never say to a customer. This is a great list and one you should pay attention too. – Shep Hyken The problem is never how to get new ideas […]

This week we feature an article by Mike Schoultz who shares his top 20 list of myths on customer experience not to tell yourself or things you should never say to a customer. This is a great list and one you should pay attention too. – Shep Hyken

The problem is never how to get new ideas into your mind, but how to eliminate the old ideas. Customer service designs that are remarkable get talked about. And getting talked about in this light is a great thing, right? No question. So telling yourself these myths about customer experience is a big no-no and won’t take you where you want to go will they?

Check out our thoughts on customer focus.

We often get questions and comments on delivering great customer service and experiences. From clients and customers commenting on our blog. Many relate to customer service actions that are reminders of what we already know (but we occasionally forget). These are big enablers of customer service and experience. They usually won’t create Wow service on their own, but their absence is noted by customers and lowers excellent customer service to just good enough or less.

Much of how we help people deliver better customer experience and service is with examples. These are fun and useful because we all have them (since we’re all customers.) And sometimes it helps to look at examples of things we shouldn’t say to customers. That is if we want them to keep coming back.

So, here is my top 20 list of myths on customer experience not to tell yourself or things you should never say to a customer that we often use in client workshops:

Following a script

Because scripts and checklists are all the rage now, employees are scripted to death. Many feels (and some are told) they are not there to think but to follow the script. And often that’s exactly what they do, even when it makes no sense and wastes the customer’s time.

When I hear a script, I wonder if the person can help me. Not a confidence builder, is it? If you have a script or checklist, pay attention to the real world too. Your customers will thank you.

Not my error

Never pass the buck or blame someone else, especially if they’re part of your company. You don’t look any better or smarter by doing so. But you certainly appear uninterested in solving the customer’s problem. Your time is better spent fixing and helping rather than blaming and finger-pointing.

Employees don’t care

If you hire people that are not delighted to be social and servicing people, you’ll likely end up with employees that don’t care. Nothing is worse for a customer’s experience.

Limited employee expertise

Putting new employees on the firing line with no or limited training results in employees who have to hand customers off or plead no knowledge. Both are equally bad. Employees that are not motivated to learn rapidly are also a bad situation waiting to happen.

Limited employee authority

No empowerment for employees to do the right things? You might as well build a robot to respond to customers. Nothing worse than having an employee that knows what needs to be done, but is not empowered to do it.

No consistency

As we stated in the introduction, you need to have all good and delighted customer experiences. Satisfactory and bad experiences will negate all the delighted customers talk about, simply because negative results usually get talked about more. Need a lot of focus on consistency of the good and delighted experiences.

No interest in customer feedback

Many customers are itching to tell you how to improve. If they are not given an opportunity, it degrades the experience. Likewise, customers always feel good when they see positive improvements.

No personalized engagement

Employees who rarely smile and engage socially at one on one engagement are at a very serious disadvantage in being able to create a delightful customer experience. In the longer term, a business needs to build relationships, particularly with its best customers. Hard to do with no personalized engagement.

Pushy sales techniques

All selling should be off limits in any situation. Hard selling is a definite no-no for any good customer experience. Very little turns off customers much faster than pushy sales techniques.

Poor listeners

Two-way conversations begin with employees listening carefully before responding. Being stuck on transmit mode in a two-way conversation won’t go anywhere fast.

Poor follow through

If a customer is told  X will be done, they should feel that it will happen. Hopefully faster and better than promised. If something unexpected happens, a good experience demands the customer be notified and kept informed.

Don’t meet expectations

If promises are not kept, expectations by the customer not achieved, negative experiences result. Too negative and your business will lose the customer forever. The absolute last thing you want.

Saying you are sorry

I am sorry you feel that way. People often say this as an apology. But it’s not. Because it again shifts the blame to the customer.

If you’re sorry, then say so. Don’t qualify it. When customers hear an apology like this, they understand what you’re doing. You’re saying, “I know I’m supposed to apologize but I don’t want to.”

A better option is just to say “I’m sorry this happened” or simply “I’m sorry.

It tells the customer you are sorry for the situation the customer is in without making you responsible for it.

Just calm down

Is there ever a situation where this has the intended effect? Not that we can see. It seems like you are tossing gasoline on the fire.

More like they’ll get even angrier while they tell YOU to calm down. They’ll escalate the matter, and they’ll probably become a former customer.

Listen, let them vent, have them talk to someone else if they want. But never tell them to calm down.

Recording: Your call is very important to us

I hear this so often I ignore it. And that is how it should be. A recorded message is not the place to tell your customers how much you value their business. Do it with a real, live, caring human being. That’s a message your customers will believe (and respond to).

You made a mistake

We all know customers make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But when you point it out directly and blatantly, you risk offending or embarrassing your customer. How would you like it? No blaming is needed. Instead, focus on helping them understand the right way to do things so that they won’t make a mistake again.

Talk to the corporate office

If a customer has feedback, a request or a complaint, they don’t care who YOU have to forward it to. They don’t care that another person in your organization will deal with it. What they want is for YOU to take the initiative to get the ball rolling. It’s not the customer’s job to go trying to find the exact person who should handle their situation. That’s YOUR job.

It’s our company policy

With too many employees this is just an easy way to get out of doing something they’d rather not do.

If you want to help then find a way. Don’t hide behind a company policy. And if you can’t work around the policy, offer an alternative or escalate the matter to the customer. If your customers see you are trying to help, they’ll be less disappointed even if they don’t get exactly what they want.

Please take a number

If I were the customer in this situation, “huh?” is the only response I’d be able to muster, assuming I didn’t just walk out. But it happens. People get so focused on policies, procedures, systems, and rules that they forget about a little tool called “common sense.” 

No one else has complained

This one always amazes me. Are we taking a survey? Are we voting on the situation? If enough other customers have a problem, then you’ll listen to me (or handle my problem)? Is that really how you want to be perceived?

Of course not, that’s ridiculous. But I’ve heard employees (and managers) say this all too often. The problem is they are focusing on their perspective. They should be focusing on the customer and helping solve a problem.

The bottom line

Remember one simple thing here: all employees need to view themselves as customer advocates, period. Customer service actions that are remarkable get talked about. And getting talked about in this light is a great thing, right? No question.

Do you have a lesson about making your customer experience better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add to the section below?

Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Leadership Lesson: It Comes From The Heart

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