A good friend of mine is a super smart guy. He's a walking and talking encyclopedia, but many people never guessed he's so smart.
You see, he had this habit of saying "umm" or "uhh" when he spoke. So much so that he came across as being very insecure in his thinking. He was unaware of this habit until I pointed it out to him, and the impact it had on how people perceived him.
In addition to "umm" and "uhh" there are two other words I hear people use with customers that negatively impact sales and the customer's service experience
"Can I ...." Two seemingly innocent words, but when you start a question with "Can I" you're starting by asking permission. And chances are, whatever you're asking permission for is something you should be doing for your customer without asking.
"Can I get the door for you?"
"Can I show you something else?"
"Can I get you something to drink?"
"Can I carry that to your car?"
Let's turn those requests for permission into statements, just by replacing "Can I" with "Let me."
"Let me get the door for you."
"Let me show you...."
"Let me get you something to drink."
"Let me carry that to your car."
The customer can always decline your offer, but most of the time he/she will be delighted that you're proactively offering your help.
By the way, my friend was able to break the "umm" and "uhh" habit by asking his friends and colleagues to point out whenever he did it. The change didn't happen right away, but with the help of others he no longer does it. I'm excited, because now everyone else gets to experience the guy I know.
So let me ask, is asking “Can I” getting in the way of you delivering an even better customer experience?
How to use this article
As a group, listen to what each of you say to your customers, and point out afterwards if the person used "Can I" when "Let me" would have resulted in a better service experience.
About Doug: Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is a speaker and consultant known for bring fresh approaches and powerful actionable ideas to clients and audiences around the world. Learn more at DougFleener.com.