As a small business coach and entrepreneur, I love to read customer service answers to questions that a business’s customers actually ask. Here’s one that came to my inbox this morning:

Question: Do you take orders over the phone?

Answer: We can take orders over the phone, but we go through the same account creation process that you would go through yourself over the Internet. If you want to phone in your order, we will be happy to help you, but you can do it all from the comfort of your own pc as well!

I don’t know about you, but as a customer I’d rather have a “hell, no!” than two “yes, buts” in one answer. It’s obvious from the answer that the business REALLY wants their customers to go order by themselves on the Internet, right? But some unwise person in the customer service department tried to wiggle around the answer and ends up sounding off-puttting and weasley. This answer also comes off sounding like the business doesn’t REALLY want to be bothered taking your order over the phone. Do you feel welcome to call in an order after you read their answer? I doubt it!

Entrepreneurs need to be mindful of how they say things to customers. Here are two ways to handle this that would built customer loyalty and sound a lot more welcoming to the person who asked the question.

1. We offer full-service ordering right from your home computer that is easy to use and available 24/7, even when we’re home in bed. We love talking to our customers by phone, we just don’t want you to have to wait if our phone lines are all busy. To talk to us directly, call XXX-XXX-XXXX. To place a “never-have-to-wait” order online, go to

2. We’ve stopped taking orders by phone and gone to a full-service online ordering system for two reasons. First, you never have to wait to place an order, day or night. And secondly, we decided to eliminate our phone order takers so that we could keep our prices steady. Still, if you ever have a problem with ordering, you can reach customer service online at OR call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX. You might have a wait getting someone live on the phone, but we’ll help you quickly once you reach us.

I was appalled when I read this Q&A in an actual, real e-zine I received this morning. While it wasn’t my question (I’m definitely an online order person, LOL!) I pretty much know that the woman asking the question won’t feel any warm fuzzies toward this business. This kind of “yes-but-really-no” answer is called defensive posturing. Defensive posturing NEVER helps build customer relationships. I see small business owners and solo professionals fall into defensive posturing often, but I just know you are a smart entrepreneur and would never, ever do this. Right?

Author's Bio: 

Sue Painter is a marketing therapist who loves working with solo professionals to create a mindset and marketing strategies that build their businesses with ease and grace. You can subscribe to her twice-monthly e-zines by going to