The power of a simple word

Telephone skillsDo you have a pet-hate word?  Mine is the word ‘just’.

It seems to be an excuse for some people to not perform to the best of their ability in tasks that they undertake within their business.  

I recently had a comment from a person which was not a flattering description of their role: ‘I’m just a receptionist’

Just a receptionist?!  A person is not ‘just’ a receptionist; they’re the first contact that a customer has with your business.

The use of the word ‘just’ changes the meaning of the statement.  It seems to go hand-in-hand with a defensive attitude to a person’s abilities and lessens the importance of the role within the company.

Who would you rather deal with – someone who enjoys what they do or someone who doesn’t? 

Someone who says ‘just’ often undermines the impact their role can have on a business.

All of the various interactions with a customer or ‘moments of truth’ - as termed by Jan Carlson – are interrelated parts of a whole experience.  In other words, a moment of truth is that precise instance when a customer comes into contact with your business’ processes or systems that deliver your services.

What is the first contact most customers have with a business?  The person at the front desk.

My recent experience

I rang a business recently and the person who answered the phone didn’t give me a good impression of that business.

Why?  They were barely polite, unhelpful and sounded as though I was intruding on something that was far more important to them.  In other words, I didn’t feel welcomed or valued as a potential customer.  In the end, I hung up and they lost a potential sale.

Could they be thinking that they’re ‘just the receptionist’ and answering the phone in the way they did was acceptable?

I hope for their sake they were just having a bad day and I was unlucky to have experienced it first hand.  Even so, when answering the phone we should all remember that we are representing our businesses.  How we feel will come through in our voice.

What does it mean for your business?

A simple word such as ‘just’ can indicate the mindset of the person.  A business that wants to deliver exceptional customer service needs to have each member of the team working together supporting each other and the business as a whole – that includes the person who is the first contact with potential or existing customers.

Do you have a pet-hate word?


Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone works with individuals and teams to develop their business communication skills. She provides coaching sessions and workshops in presentation skills, business writing and effective communication with colleagues and clients.

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