How to Speak to Customers and Clients

There are TWO parts to speaking: your body language and your words.

Start by greeting a customer/client. Welcome them with a pleasant smile to project a professional image – smiling is customary in Canada and it means you are being friendly. A simple “Hi, how are you today?” is appropriate.

Talk CLEARLY AND SLOWLY.  You may be speaking with an accent your customer doesn’t easily understand so make it easy for them. Speak loudly enough so that they can hear you without straining and getting frustrated.

Make EYE CONTACT – it’s a sign of respect and lets them know you are listening to them. Remember: Canadians listen with their eyes.

DO NOT INTERRUPT. You may already know what the customer is going to say as you deal with the same situation many times a day. It doesn’t matter – let the customer finish their sentence!

DO NOT USE SLANG OR JARGON. At work, you are in a professional role. Being friendly doesn’t mean being friends.


In Canada, they say: “The customer may not always be right but the customer must always win.”


For the 8 hours you are at work, you will need to put aside your own personal feelings. You may be dealing with some problems at home or having certain health issues, but at work your job is to leave the client/customer satisfied. So smile, be nice, and pretend like you care.


If a customer is complaining about something, listen! Let them talk. When they are done, acknowledge their emotions and show empathy. Say “I understand. I’d be  frustrated too.” Repeat what they told you the problem is – this lets them know you heard them. After that, tell them what you can do for them: “What we can do is…” or “I can find out…” or “The best option is…”

Sometimes you will need to apologize. If it is your or your co-workers’ fault, say “I’m sorry you (have been waiting for so long).” If it is not your fault, say “I’m sorry you feel this way…”


If a client/customer asks you something and you don’t know, try to find out (if possible). “Good question. Let me find out for you.”

If you cannot help a customer, find somebody who can help them. Bring them to that person, then, if appropriate, introduce the customer to the staff and explain how they can help the customer.

If a customer asks “Where is..?”, offer to show them. “Let me show you/this way.”


“Is there anything else I can help you with?” is the usual way to finish the conversation. Again, make eye contact and give the customer a moment to think. If there’s nothing else, say “Have a good evening/ Have a good one.”


NEVER SAY ‘NO’ TO THE CUSTOMER! Instead, say “As much as I would love to help, it is not possible. Your best option is to…”


Do not say:                                       Say:

I don’t know.                                     Great question, let me find that out for you.

Over there.                                       Let me show you.

Unfortunately, no…                        What we can do for you is…

I’m sorry, I’m sorry.                        I’m sorry you had that experience. Let me help you….

Please calm down.                       I understand, I’d be really frustrated too.

Let me be honest with you.         (tell customer the facts)

No problem.                                   You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help.

Sorry, that’s the policy.                 This is our policy but I can offer you this alternative…

You don’t understand.                  What can I clarify?

That’s not my department.          I know who can help you with this.

You should/you need to…           Now you can…

There’s nothing I can do.             What I can do for you is…


The Most Important Point:

Use POSITIVE language. The words like “good, great, sure, certainly, absolutely, gladly, fantastic, happy” will help you build good relationship with your customers and clients.