Three Words You Should Never Hear in Customer Service

Errol shares his thoughts on new hires and the three words that should be avoided at all cost.

bad words speach bubbleWhile assisting my wife in preparing for one of her workshops, it became apparent that a few more seats were needed. As I was familiar with this location, I proceeded to the storage room to retrieve the chairs but found the door locked.

While speaking with the new receptionist in regards to gaining access to the room, she uttered the three words every new employee should avoid – “I’m new here – and I have no idea where the keys are located.”

When one finds him or herself in the position of a new employee, it’s important to refrain from using these three words. Let’s talk about why.

Does Anyone Really Need to Know?

I have often heard supervisors or employers apologizing for the actions of an employee by stating – “I’m sorry, but he/she is new here.” Does the customer really need to know that and furthermore do they really care?

Customers are usually unconcerned about a service provider’s tenure with an organization. As we’ve all been that “new employee”, there are times when one may not know the necessary actions to take to handle a particular situation.

The apprehension felt by a new employee when presented with a situation for which we may not have an immediate resolution can be overwhelming. It’s important to maintain your composure and do what the veteran employees do – Stall! Ask the customer to allow you a few minutes to get the answer, develop a resolution, etc. Most people are understanding and will grant your request.

The customer does not have to know that you’re new and you might even impress your supervisor or manager by taking the necessary actions to provide the best solution. In my example at the beginning of this article, the receptionist could have stated “Sure sir, let me locate those keys.” As she is the receptionist and is responsible for incoming calls, I understood that she was unable to leave the front desk. It would have been okay with me if she had called another employee to assist in locating the keys.

It Sounds Like an Excuse

When a new employee uses the three words “I’m new here” it may be perceived by the customer as an excuse for not being fully prepared to provide the service expected.

The organization has a responsibility to provide comprehensive training to new employees which should assist in instilling confidence. Even when equipped with the best training, there be will moments when new employees will either “go blank” (a temporary memory lapse) or just have no idea what to do in a given situation. In either case, it’s real easy to resort to that old standby – “I’m new here.”

I suggest not to get into the habit of using these three words as it usually results in a supervisor or manager intervening to provide whatever is needed for that particular situation. Pretty soon everyone grows weary from a new employee’s usage of those three words. Watch, listen and learn from more tenured staff as they handle various situations.

Their Confidence Is at Stake

Should a new employee decide to utilize the dreaded three words in an attempt to garner a customer’s sympathy, it most often results in a blow to the employee’s confidence. Usually, utilization of these words really means “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

It’s important for new employees to gain and maintain confidence as quickly as possible. Repeated exposure to situations and scenarios that new employees are ill-equipped to handle can lead to a loss of confidence and increased anxiety or frustration.

It doesn’t feel good to be face to face or on the phone with a customer when one is not prepared to provide the service expected. Make sure new employees are placed in areas where they can experience early success with customer interactions. Otherwise, sooner or later, someone will surely resort to “Sorry, but I’m new here.”

New employees are dependent upon the organization for proper product/service knowledge training. The use of “I’m new here” is a sure sign that the employee may not yet be comfortable in their role.

Remind new employees to ask themselves before using those three words – Does Anyone Really Need To Know?

About the Author

Recognized as “one of seven useful Twitter people for retailers to follow” by mystery shopping experts of the UK, Customer Service Speaker, Author and Consultant Errol Allen utilizes his 25+ years of practical hands on experience to assist organizations in developing customer service strategies for maximum customer retention. Errol believes that a systems mindset is critical to an organization’s success in providing great customer experiences.

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