10 Common Phrases You Should Never Say to Your Customers

Some things are better left unsaid. This is true for your private life, but it’s also definitely true when it comes to communication with your customers.

So often people complain about customer service, why is that? Customer service representatives are supposed to help people solve their issues, so why is it that these people blast at those who are helping them? We all know the answer, of course, through our own experiences as customers looking for help: service representatives often say stupid things, either out of ignorance or out of negligence, leaving us unvalued and angry.

There are some sentences that should never be said to customers, ever. Yet they are being said all the time. If you don’t want your customers walking away from your company in anger, share this list of 10 Common Phrases you should Never use with your Customers with your service team.

10
“I’m not sure, but I believe that…”

It’s only normal that you don’t know the answer to every question right away, whether it concerns your company, its customers or something technical. What ís harmful is providing the customer with an answer you are not sure about.

Instead of going out of their way to provide the customer with a conclusive and factual answer, oftentimes service representatives try taking a shortcut with answers based on their common sense and vague memory. Such an answer is as unsatisfying as it is insulting. Unsatisfying, because the customer still isn’t 100% sure. Insulting, because it assumes that the customer isn’t able to use common sense him/herself.

Then, if there is really nothing you can do at the moment to please the customer, you can address the problem by telling the customer that unfortunately you don’t have the exact response, but you will forward this chat (or eMail or call) to someone who can provide far better support. It is ok to admit that you don’t know something, as long as you offer a solution to it.

9
“That’s not so bad”

It doesn’t matter whether the customer’s problem seems serious or minor in your eyes. If the customer finds it serious enough to take the effort to contact you, it ís serious.

“68% of customers will not do business with a company who doesn’t show that they value them” (in Those Card Folks).

Customers appreciate feeling valued and that is only possible if you show them. Sentences like ‘that’s not so bad’, ‘that’s not a problem’, etc. downplay the customer’s problems, leaving him feeling silly and unimportant. That’s never a good idea.

Oftentimes these sentences appear when a customer comes with a problem to which there is an easy fix. If there is an easy fix, that’s great! But you cannot expect your customer to be aware of it.

So instead, start off by showing that you understand the gravity of the situation and then present the solution. For example: “I understand your issue. It’s good that you came to us for help, we have an easy solution for you: …”

8
”Listen to me …”

Don’t show impatience in front of the customer. “Listen to me” sounds condescending, like you’re talking to a kid. If the customer is angry already, this will surely make him even more nervous and we don’t want that.

Instead, you can introduce your point of view or explanation by starting with “Let me explain” and calmly clarify your perspective. If you would like to read more about how to deal with angry customers, we recommend you to take a look at our article here.

7
“I will tell them”

Referring to the company you work for as “they” is a great way to show that you don’t really belong “there”. As far as the customer is concerned, you are a representative of the company, you are the company’s face. If you try to dislocate yourself you cause confusion and induce lack of credibility.

Always mention your company as “we”: “We will make sure your problem is solved”.

6
“You shouldn’t have done that”

Don’t put the customer on the spot. Ever heard of “the customer is always right”? Even though that might not actually be true, it is important that the customer feels this way. They should never be questioned even when they were the ones who caused the problem.

Instead simply highlight the cause of the problem, rationally and immediately explain the fix. “The problem was caused by a misuse of the product under non-suitable conditions” will always sound much better than “You shouldn’t have microwaved your mobile phone!”.

5
“Calm Down…”

If there is one sentence that has the power to exponentiate any flare of anger is this one. Telling someone to calm down is like adding oil to a hot pan, it’s explosive. The best thing you can do in stressful situations, is just letting the customer speak it out. Let him say all that he has to say, all the problems and anxieties. Listen to all that he says and keep agreeing with sentences like “I understand…” or “I see…”.

Sooner or later the customer will naturally start to calm down and prepare himself to listen to you. Your receptiveness will also convey that you care about what they have to say and that fact will give you extra points when trying to solve this customers’ issues, with an understanding mindset from his side.

4
“You don’t want that, you want this…”

You might know a lot about customer preferences, you might even know a lot about a certain customer’s past buying experience, enough to understand what he would like. If you encounter a customer who is doubtful about your product, e.g. thinking about alternatives (from competitors) you should make an effort to bring his attention to your positive points, more than telling him how he shouldn’t pick the alternative.

People don’t like to be told off, especially by companies. Customers don’t like to feel manipulated or influenced in their decisions (at least directly). To convince a customer to stick with your solution it’s always better to start relating their preferences with your offer and, whenever possible, mention the benefits associated with buying from you (shipping, payment conditions, discounts, post-sale service or others that might apply).

3
”You’re wrong”

Never tell a customer he his wrong. In line with number 5, customers should be treated with utmost respect. A golden rule states that service representative should never question the customer’s point of view. If the customer is wrong about something, first try to explain yourself using facts or other sources.

2
“$%#&!”

Swearing is or otherwise insulting the customer a sinful no-go. Remember: you are representing your company, not yourself. Swearing shows unprofessionalism and can be extremely offensive.

1
*Silence*

Yes. Far worse than anything you can say is not saying anything. We're not talking about the "I am listening" type of silence, we are talking about the silence from an unanswered chat or phone call, from a neverending waiting queue. Silence represents a lack of capacity to serve your customers, making them look for alternatives soon.

Nowadays a high quality service is expected from every company. Customers not only have high expectations but also become highly frustrated if they are not given special attention and their issue is deal timely and respectfully. Whatever you say during your next customer interaction, make sure you don't use any of these sentences!