Who are “they”?

Have you ever been on the customer end of a statement involving the anonymous, yet typically uncooperative, “they”?  It goes like this…

Customer:  “I’d like to return this item even though I don’t have a receipt.  Can you help me?”
Service Provider:  “I’m sorry, they don’t allow us to accept returns without a receipt.”

At first glance, you might think that sounds pretty good and quite friendly.  However, there’s a subtle problem.  The employee said “they” don’t allow “us” to accept returns.  Who are “they”?  The evil, uncooperative business owners?  Doesn’t this employee represent the business, hence making him or her a member of the “we” group vs. the “us” collection?

Employees represent your business and are the “face” of your business to everyone whom they encounter in the course of doing business.  When referring to the employer, employees should always say “we”.  This demonstrates inclusion and alignment with the company, its products and its values.

  • We appreciate your business.”
  • “I’m sorry, we’re unable to accept returns without a receipt, but would you be interested in an exchange?”
  • We offer some additional discounts for students.”

Take time to meet with your employees and remind them that each of them is part of “we”!  Share your company vision and values and ensure that everyone feels like a player on the team vs. an observer from the bench.

Don’t leave your customers thinking, “Who are ‘they’?”