Customer service is a necessary component of almost every business. You want to make sure your customers feel satisfied and cared for and like their questions and concerns matter.
On the other hand, though, customer service can be time-consuming and pull you away from other important areas of your business.
So to help strike a balance between nurturing customer relationships and saving time, customer service scripts are useful.
You don’t want all of your customer service to feel like copy-and-paste interactions, though, as that can come across as cold and impersonal. But you do want to think ahead when it comes to tough customer service scenarios (e.g. damaged goods, late arrivals, angry customers, etc.) and have some flexible, POSITIVE, go-to responses at your fingertips.
This way, instead of just copying and pasting cookie-cutter scripts, you have templates for how to respond but also the flexibility to adapt and add a more personal touch, which customers really appreciate.
Below, I present ten common customer service scenarios along with examples of what to say to keep your communication positive, effective, and leaving customers feeling taken care of.
1. What to say when you don’t know the answer…
First of all, don’t worry if you don’t know an answer. The purpose of customer service is to serve and help make things better, not to be infallible and all-knowing.
However, instead of saying “I don’t know,” which doesn’t communicate anything helpful to customers, try repeating the question back to customers and then saying something like…
“Does this mug come in a color-changing option? That’s a great question! Let me find that out and get back to you. Thanks!”
2. What to say when an item is unavailable…
This isn’t a great situation for your business, but you don’t want to highlight the negative in your response. Instead, you want to put a positive spin on things and use positive language.
So rather than saying something like…
“Unfortunately, you can’t order that product right now. It’s back-ordered and unavailable until next month.” (NO!)
…try this instead…
“The product you’re interested in will become available next month. I can place the order for you now and then make sure to have it sent to you as soon as it’s back in stock.” (YES!)
3. What to say when a customer asks a favor (or to be an exception) that you can’t accommodate…
It’s good to be as accommodating as possible, but it has to be within reason. And sometimes, your customers will ask you for favors or special treatment that you just can’t (or shouldn’t) oblige. For these situations, try using the following template as your response:
“As much as I’d like to fulfill all of my customers’ needs and make them as happy as possible, I’m afraid I can’t meet your request. The reason is that [give at least one reason why]. Could I perhaps offer/suggest [provide at least one alternative solution to the problem]? Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to better assist you. Thanks.”
4. What to say when a product is damaged or late…
This is an unhappy and disappointing event for customers, and showing a little empathy can go a long way. Here are two examples of what you can say:
4a. A product arrives damaged
“I’m so sorry your product arrived damaged! That’s very disappointing! A mistake may have occurred in the manufacturing process, or perhaps your order was damaged during shipping. I will send you a replacement right away, though. And please accept my apologies again for the inconvenience.”
4b. A product is late
“I’m so sorry your product is late! That’s very disappointing! I’ve checked with the shipping carrier, and according to the tracking number [insert number], your order is due to arrive on [date] so you will have it soon! Please accept my apologies again for the inconvenience.”
5. What to say to (tactfully) let customers know the mistake was on their end…
We all mess up sometimes. But the last thing you want to do when your customers make mistakes is to rub it in their face or make them feel stupid. So, if a mistake is made that’s your customer’s fault, here’s how to gently let them know and also help them out:
“I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. The problem seems to be due to [explain the problem]. I’ve done this a few times myself before, so I can definitely relate. But the good news is, I’ve resolved the issue for you by [briefly explain how]. I really hope that helps!
6. What to say when YOU are at fault…
There’ll be times when you make mistakes too. And whenever this happens, you want to own up to it and be transparent. Try saying something like the following:
“I’m very sorry! I made a mistake by [explain what happened]. I am working to fix it as quickly as possible, however. Just please be aware that it may take up to [number of hours/days]. I will follow up with you when I know more. And in the meantime, I thank you for your patience and offer my sincerest apologies once again.”
7. What to say when you’re too swamped to respond…
Ideally, you want to respond to people within twenty-four hours. But, especially during the holidays when everything is ten times crazier than usual, you may need to take a little longer to respond. You don’t want to leave people completely hanging, though, so you can send them an initial response like this…
“Thanks for getting in touch. I do my best to respond within 24 hours. But I am currently away from my computer, so my response time may be slower than usual. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Your questions and feedback are important to me and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
8. What to say to point customers to an existing FAQ or tutorial without sounding dismissive…
You create FAQs and tutorials for a reason: namely, to streamline your communication so customers can help themselves without needing to wait for you to respond. Not everyone is going to notice or use your support materials, however.
But you don’t want to let the hard work you put into creating these materials go to waste. So it’s totally fine to point customers towards a FAQ or tutorial. You just don’t want to sound rude or dismissive in doing so.
Here’s what to say:
“Thanks for getting in touch! I actually created a [FAQ/tutorial] for the exact issue you describe. I think you’ll find it very useful. You can find the [FAQ/tutorial] here: [link]. If this doesn’t help resolve your issue, however, please contact me again and I’ll be happy to help.”
9. What to say when ending a conversation…
Whenever you end a conversation with a customer, it’s helpful to convey your willingness to ensure the customer has had a happy experience doing business with you. So try to close your conversations with something like…
“Before signing off, is there anything else I can assist you with today? I’m always happy to help.”
10. What to say to over-the-top angry customers…
This is another time when a lot of empathy comes in handy. When dealing with really angry customers, you want your communication to do four things:
- Be apologetic – You absolutely need to say “I’m sorry” (even if the situation isn’t your fault).
- Sympathize – Even if you don’t fully understand where a customer is coming from, it’s helpful to say things like, “I understand how upsetting this must be for you.”
- Accept responsibility – Again, even if you’re not technically at fault, you are responsible for your customer’s happiness when it comes to your business.
- Find a way to help – Coming up with a solution to a customer’s problem is a given, but you also want to aim to have customers who started out angry leave feeling satisfied.
Here’s an example of what you might say to an especially irate customer:
“I’m truly sorry about [the situation at hand]. I understand how upsetting this must be. But I’m going to do everything I can to fix the problem for you. I’m going to [how you’re going to make things better].And I really hope that helps. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to assist you today. I’m always here to help.”
Certain customer service scenarios can be difficult to navigate, so I hope you find these response suggestions useful. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!