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I’m Not Your Sweetie, Honey, or Darling!

By: Teresa Allen


Not Your Sweetie Honey or Darling

I recently had a call with a representative in the billing department of a vendor who provides technology services to my business. Before I go any further, think of the expected tone of a customer service interaction in regards to technology. I expect a professional communication.

While the representative was very polite and helpful, she called me sweetie three times in a five minute call. I don’t know if any or you have had a similar close encounter where you were referred to as sweetie, honey, or darling. Particularly if you are female, my guess is unfortunately that YES you have.

I looked up the word sweetie on Google and came upon an amusing graphic defining the word: A word of endearment used in the south that is used to express your love for another. In customer service keynotes and customer service training, I often emphasize how important it is that your customers know you love serving them…. but this expression of love might go a bit too far even in the south!

As a business professional, being called anything but my name is a total turn-off. Let me provide some adjectives to describe such a verbal encounter:

  • Unprofessional
  • Condescending
  • Disrespectful
  • Immature
  • Uninformed
  • … and the list could go on and on and on!

We sometimes forget how the nuances of face-to-face and telephone interactions can impact the impression of a business. My interaction was business to business, but I would suggest that even a retail holiday shopping excursion with this type of greeting could be off-putting. No matter your type of business or customer served, be sure to discuss choice of words with your staff, even to include why NOT to use certain words in a customer close encounter. The danger for a service provider in a customer service interaction is that the reaction can vary from one customer to another and it is too dangerous to risk being perceived in a negative light due to a too casual communication style.

Let me know what you think and whether I am being too sensitive! If you can think of any titles I forgot that can be negatively received, share them with us in the comments section below.

Oh and I hope all you darlings have a great day!

Published: January 13, 2016

Source: Allen Speaks

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Teresa Allen

Teresa Allen is a world recognized customer service expert and customer service speaker. She has been included on ​Global Gurus list of the world's top Customer Service Experts for five consecutive years. Teresa is often asked to share strategies for customer service success at meetings held across the globe. Teresa can be reached via her website: www.AllenSpeaks.com or by phone at 850-460-7105 or email: tallen@AllenSpeaks.com

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