Thursday, August 4, 2011

Keeping the “U” in Customer Service

Actually, it’s not the “U,” it’s the “You.” 

Below, I’ll tell you why it’s extra-important to stress your focus on your customers, and how to modify your writing style to do so.  Future posts will share writing tips so you can anticipate and address some common customer service issues, allow you to remain firm in your policies – and maintain your customer-centered style.

Selling online presents challenges that brick-and-mortar stores don’t face.   For example, our customers can’t touch or closely examine our wares, or return an item on their way to the grocery store, or rely on our community presence for assurance of our integrity. 

We also don’t have the luxury of a live conversation to clarify our return policy or clothing sizes.  Instead, we must provide detailed information, anticipate as many customer questions and issues possible, and lay out our policies concisely and accurately, all the while establishing our friendliness and credibility using the written word.

Part of the success in conquering these challenges lies (1) in establishing the right tone, (2) informing clearly and concisely, and (3) communicating directly without sounding unfriendly or difficult to buy from.

In this post, let’s tackle the first item -- setting up the right tone.  This would be like opening wide the door in your B&M boutique with a big smile, and drawing in your customer with a friendly welcome.  She is confident that you are devoting your attention to her desires and needs.  You communicate parameters about sizes and pricing while maintaining relaxed eye contact with her, and she stays engaged to listen to what you are saying.

Similarly, in your online shop, when you write with a “you”-centered style, you convey information and assure her that you care about her satisfaction – and keep her engaged by focusing your writing on her. 

The most effective way to do so is to put the U back in "customer."  Instead of using the pronoun “I” several times in your sections, use “you”.  The effect is to move the emphasis to your customer – who wants to feel important to you, the seller.

Suppose I write “I want all happy customers,” who is the person emphasized:  me or the customer?  To me, this appears to say that I and my ‘wants’ are more important than the customer.  However, if I write, “Your delight and satisfaction in your purchase are my main concern,” how does that change the tone of the conversation?

Here’s another example:
. . . I love to sew and use lots of color.  I make a wide variety of things.  I like to make things that I think people will want to buy because my friends told me I should sell my items.. . .

In the example above, “I” or “my” is used 7 times:  who is the emphasis on?  Also, would you say seven I’s verbally to engage a customer entering your B&M boutique?

Compare it to this:
 . . . You’ll see many colorful handmade items here at HandmadeColors, which I create with your tastes and style in mind. . . .”

In the example above, “you” is used at the beginning to draw in the customer and to involve her in your “conversation.”

These are obviously fictitious examples and everyone’s situation and specific style are unique.  Yet, I do believe your sales will improve by setting the tone – the voice -- for ensuring a welcoming and engaging visit for your customer. I invite you to try it; please let me know how it goes!

If you want your customer to know she is important to you,
convey it to her by putting the U” back in customer service!
You will be glad you did!

In a future post, I’ll discuss how you can tackle the second step – informing clearly and concisely – to make your shop customer-centered and effective. 


  1. Excellent suggestions, Sheryl. I will take a look at my shop and see how many times I use the word "I"

    Kathy from Hattie Designs

  2. Sheryl, Excellent points - I look forward to chapters 2 & 3 :)
    Thanks for your very clear examples and real-life scenarios - beautifully written!

  3. Well done and great advice, Sheryl!

  4. Thanks for your comments!

    Feel free to let me know about changes and if they help you!