4 Ways To Stop Scaring The $#!@ Out Of Your Customers

dangerOn a recent walk through my neighborhood with my kids and dog, a sign in a front yard caught my attention.  The sign (pictured) read, “Area Dangerous To Animals.”

As a parent and dog owner, this sign was enough to set off alarm bells in my head.  What are the potential dangers I should watch out for?

Are there land mines buried in the front yard?

Is the soil laced with poison– perhaps a corrosive, flesh-eating chemical?

Is this some sort of quicksand? 

Is the danger limited to animals or does it apply to humans as well?

Those are just some of the thoughts that raced through my head when I read this sign.  Can you see how just a bit of clarification to this message could either put my fears to rest or prompt me to make alternate plans on my family walks?

Now think for a moment about how we talk to our customers and the messages that we send to them.  In many cases, the customers you are serving have significant amounts of time, money and sweat invested in their business.  So any message that threatens their ability to do business may be enough to send them into a panic.  It’s critical that you only put your customers on alert when it’s absolutely necessary.

Here are four ways to ensure that you communicate clearly with your customers:

1. Always put yourself in your customer’s shoes-  When communicating a message to a customer, ask yourself, “How does this impact my customer?” and speak directly to those potential concerns.

2. Ask what they understood-  Give your customers the opportunity to share what they understood from your message and voice any questions or concerns they might have.

3. Listen to your customers-  You are ALWAYS listening.  Whether it’s on the phone, email, chat, social media, or a survey, customers are voicing their concerns and questions.  Commit to daily listen to them and find ways to communicate better.

4. Watch out on your automated communications-  Are you offending customers with automated emails.  It is critical that automated communications be read and reread to ensure they fit the company voice and address any possible concerns that might be raised by the reader.  Otherwise, you’re guaranteed to receive a panicked phone call from a customer.  It also helps to make sure your front line staff is aware of those automated messages so they know what the customer is talking about when they call!

Remember the way a customer feels about your company is critical to their loyalty to your brand.  Scaring the $#!@ out of them or otherwise sending them into a panic is not the way create loyal customers.


Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.


  • What so interesting about this post Jeremy is that for me, it’s all about being present as a part of any conversation or communication with my customer. Actually feeling the words and thinking about what I am going to say before I say it, listening intently to my customers concerns, expressing my concerns for my customer as though I were in his shoes. Great post.

  • So, are you going to go ask them what this is all about? I’m curious now too!

    In the neighborhood where I am staying, there is a house that has a sign with a dog pooping that says, “No Dogs Allowed On Grass!” But, this neighbor took it even further to install a webcam that faces out on this part of the grass (the grass near the street, apart from their lawn) to catch anyone who may put a paw on their sacred blades of grass. I’m not sure what happens if they catch anyone on there, but I know I don’t want to find out!

    You bring up some valuable points here that I think a lot of businesses miss when trying to communicate with their customers. Nice work, Jeremy!

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