Social Enterprise

Why you shouldn't "deal" with customers

I read an article about customer relations that was a real eye-opener for me. Cameron Martel, in her CareerRamblings blog, wrote a great piece about why resumes from people in CR should never use the term "deal" when referring to their interaction with customers or clients. As she says in the blog:

"When I am hiring someone for a position that will have any amount of interaction with my customers, I am looking for resourceful, well-versed staff that are capable of clearly communicating and portraying themselves in a positive manner. These kind of people are the type of people that are able to take control of sales situations, empower and promote open communication and conversation, and display confidence and assertion when interacting with my clients. At no point do these people 'deal' with my customers."

Dealing with customers implies that the customers are an imposition to be tolerated. That may be the case in many situations, but that's not the message you want to give to a prospective employer. Martel suggests using terms like these instead:

  • "Listened and responded to customer requests and complaints."
  • "Received and processed verbal orders from customers, both in person and over the phone."
  • "Delivered exceptional customer service."


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.


"Dealing with customers" has no such implicit meaning whatsoever. Personally I'd be concerned to have any dealings (or should I say "conduct transactions"?) with a person who was so hung up on vernacular that she can't see the underlying meaning of things. Would she choose to correct a customer if they used such language? What a goose. It wouldn't matter if I read any of her suggested statements or if someone wrote 'I just like making 120% of my quota' in their resume. I'd still want to drill down into their behaviour and personal style. I'd get references (including prior clients) to make sure they aren't exaggerating. Lots of people can write wonderfully literary resumes and not know how to deal at the pointy end of the business.


The items listed are what is commonly called "dealing with a customer". There is no other implication other than in the Politically-Correct mind of the writer. It's simply the common vernacular, nothing more.

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