Learning how to respond effectively to customers involves two things: 1) Knowing what to say, and 2) knowing what NOT to say. This exercise focuses on what not to say in a fun way, so it's also useful as a customer service energizer.
Ideal Group Size
10 to 25 people
Time For Exercise
Detailed Instructions If Needed
This can be done with particpants in their existing places, or you can have them in a semi circle or circle.
Outline the Task:
We're going to go from person to person, and the first person is going to provide us a sentence beginning with the letter "A", that you should never say to a customer.
The NEXT person is going to suggest a better sentence that reflects the implied situation from the first person.
THEN, we'll move on to "B", and so on....until we get stuck.
You are only going to have a few seconds (about 10 seconds) to come up with a bad phrase, and/or come up with a better one.
End the exercise once you've hit the time you've allotted for it, or when it seems to be getting tedious. Here are some questions to ask:
How many of the "bad" phrases have you used in your customer service careers?
Did you find it hard to come up with a bad phrase under time pressure? How about coming up with an improved phrase? Does pressure affect how you function?
What's easier? To come up with a good phrase, or a bad phrase? Does that have any implications for you as a customer service representative?
Additional Information if Available
You can reverse this and have people come up with good phrases instead of bad, and drop the second step.
See also: Customer Service: Offering Options, Not Negativity