• Mary Shores

Common Roadblocks With the Action Statement (Step 3 of the Communication Code)

Updated: Feb 25



I want to spend some time addressing common roadblocks folks run into when trying to develop their action statements.


As a refresher, the action statement is Step 3 of my three-step Communication Code. It's where you tell your customers what you can and will do for them.


Something I've heard over and over from customer service reps after I make a request is, "No. I'm sorry. Our policy is..."
How does that make you feel?
Not great, right?

When your only response to customers is “no,” and you don’t offer a solution or something to put them on the path to a positive outcome, you give them a punch-in-the-gut feeling.


Even if the solution is not the exact one the person is looking for, there’s always something you CAN do, and demonstrating your willingness to find an alternative solution can help you create a positive connection with that person.


Saying what you can do builds respect and loyalty. It increases customers' confidence in you, gives you credibility, and helps customers perceive you as an ally.


When I train business professionals on the Communication Code, specifically the action statement, these roadblocks almost always come up:


  • Roadblock #1: You don't know what the solution is

  • Roadblock #2: Sometimes the answer really is "no"

  • Roadblock #3: You're waiting on a response from a higher-up

Starting with Roadblock #1, even when you’re unsure how to solve a problem, you can answer with clear next steps that reassure your customers you're working with them.


For example, you can let customers know that you will research the problem and get back to them on X date, or that you’ll transfer them to someone who will know how to help them.


I've already touched on Roadblock #2 in my blog posts here and here. In this case, remember to avoid saying, “No. I can’t do that.” Instead, say what you will do, even if it is not exactly what the customer is asking for.


Sometimes this requires thinking outside the box. If the solution the customer wants isn’t one that’s available (an example from my collection agency is deleting an account on a credit report), you can introduce the customer to a new solution (like teaching them how to check their own credit report and dispute the account).


Regarding Roadblock #3, in this case, you cannot fix the problem at this moment, and the process has been halted. Here, explain the process to the customer and give them a sense of the timeline.


Your action statement in this case is to call the customer back with an update in X time or offer an alternative.

Example phrasing:


“I want to let you know that I have reported your concerns to the insurance processing department, and I expect to hear back by Friday. As soon as I do, I will give you a call.”


Have you tried using the action statement at work or in your personal life? Have any roadblocks come up for you? Tell me about it!



© 2020 by MARY SHORES COMMUNICATIONS.

Champaign, Illinois I United States