Who doesn’t love a helpful acronym? Here’s one I love to use while interacting with customers of all attitudes: T.E.E.L.

Take your time

Check your Ego

Use Plain English

Let Your Customer’s Tone Shape Yours


Take your time

There’s no race to see how “short”a response can be. This obviously does not mean using ten words when one will suffice (see Ego Check); besides, a well-intended, presumably benign, curt answer can come across as an ego-laden insult. It is always best to take your time and even throw in a sincere acknowledgmentof the frustration that the person on the other end may be experiencing. Trust me, taking your time and checking your Ego work beautifully well together.


Ego Check

Even though a certain level of “expertise”is assumed based on your position, your customers are also using your product in a way that can only be accomplished as a user! Based on this alone, the type of relationship between customer and customer service demands mutual respect and understanding. The fact is that it is up to the unique Support Representative to uphold the agreement. And yes, this especially true if the very first contact from your user seems to be disrespectfulto you or your product or overall service.


Use Plain English

Technical jargon can safely be reserved for when only and totally necessary. If you’re using an acronym (something other than “T.E.E.L.”, of course), also provide the expansion and explanation. For instance, I’ve used SSO to describe Single Sign On at least once, but typically expand upon the abbreviation. It’s not the time to provehow much you know by flooding your end user with a bunch of thick terms. I’m constantly amazed by folks that are able to speak about something highly specialized in a very “natural”way, which demonstrates an even higherlevel of understanding that individual has about the specialty.


Let Their Tone Shape Yours

Based on how a message is submitted, a lot can be learned. As support professionals, we often receive messages that are difficult to gauge where a person may be coming from.Typically it’s the rushed and frantic users that are looking for help, but misspelled words and blame shifting camouflage their motives.This does not necessarily mean the person’s a jerk. Set the tone by Taking Your Time to concisely summarize what you “think”you’ve read and offer your suggestion(s) based on that. Being careful to adjust your Ego and using Plain English to communicate in a warm, yet professional tone.