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Positively Speaking Service to keep your customers smiling

By Jacquelyn Lynn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's not fun when you think someone on the phone has a badattitude. It's even worse when he's thinking the same aboutyou.

Say good riddance to negative words: Make a habit of thinkingand speaking positively. "When communicating with a customer,use positive words," says David E. Deviney, author ofOutstanding Customer Service (American Media Publishing).Says Deviney, "Words like 'can't,''fault,' and 'blame' need to come out of yourspeaking vocabulary-and out of your thinking as well."

Negative words slam the brakes on your relationships withcustomers. When a customer asks if you can do something and you sayno, the conversation is essentially over. Before you answer tooquickly, find out more about what the customer needs. Explorealternatives you might be able to deliver.

Besides avoiding the "N" word, steer clear of othercommon negative phrases. Instead of saying "I don'tknow," say "I'll find out." Instead of asking"Why did you ...?" which implies blame, try "Let mesee if I understand ..." And instead of saying "Wecan't do that," say "We can do this."

Remember that your tone is even more important than your words,so smile when you're talking. If you're a chronicdoom-and-gloomer, go extreme: Keep a mirror on your desk and saycheese. "Smile in the mirror before you answer thephone," Deviney advises. "That sounds corny, but whenyou're smiling, it comes across in your voice."

Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 12 yearsago and has been writing about business and management issues fromher home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since.

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