Upgrade Your Words to Improve Your Customer Service Experience


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Warning: The words you use to communicate with your customer can destroy the customer service experience.

On a recent business trip to San Diego, I was checking into a hotel. The girl working the front desk seemed very nice. She had to inform me that my room was not ready. She pleasantly offered to put me into a different room, however the words she used ruined the customer service experience.

She said, “I’m sorry the room we pre-assigned you is not ready, but we could downgrade you to a different room and get you in right away.”

The word “downgrade” grabbed my attention, so I asked her what “downgrade” meant. Apparently, they had me in a corner room with a king size bed. Those rooms are just a bit bigger (not much) than the other rooms. She was downgrading me to a “non-corner” room with a king-size bed.

All of the rooms in this hotel are very nice. What she could have said was, “I’m sorry the room we pre-assigned you is not ready. It was a corner room with a king size bed. You can wait until it is ready, or we can put you into another room with a king-size bed. It’s also a very nice room.”

By the way, I took the “downgraded” room, and it was perfectly fine.

What words are you using words that could destroy the customer service experience?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Shep Hyken
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service speaker and expert, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author.


  1. Shep, another simple and great post! Front-line associates should be trained to position their responses in a positive manner. Even if she had said, “I have great news the room we had originally assigned you is not available, but I have another fabulous room which also has a king bed, but it’s doesn’t have a corner view” would have made the entire experience so much better. Most customer experiences can be dramatically improved by companies training their associates to use customer-friendly words and phrases. Thanks for sharing! Richard Shapiro, The Center For Client Retention


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