The 6 Worst (and Best!) Phrases in Customer Service

From business blogs, to LinkedIn groups to informal polls, we’ve scoured the web for the phrases that a majority view as the dirty words of customer service, but that are frequently used by many customer service representatives today.

After finding the least-liked phrases, we went in search of words customers love to hear, and here’s what we found:

6 Phrases that Should be Cut from the Customer Service Vocabulary

1. That’s just our policy. Many noted that this phrase conveys an unwillingness to see things from the customer’s perspective and that there is nothing that can (or will) be done from here on out to make the customer happy.

2. No problem. Perhaps the most surprising addition to the least-liked phrases, but customer service managers agree that other phrases are much more appropriate in response to a customer’s “thank you.” The customer should never perceive that they were a “problem.”

3. You’ll have to… Anything that suggests the customer will have to go somewhere else or do something else to obtain service is a big no-no.

4. To be honest with you. Perception is everything! “To be honest with you” suggests that perhaps the company or the representative was not being or has not been honest before? It’s best not to leave any doubt.

5. I believe or I think. The customer has called you because they need the correct answer, not a guess, which is why “I believe” or “I think” should be off limits.

6. There’s nothing I can do. Oh no you didn’t. There’s nothing worse to a customer’s ears than “there’s nothing I can do.” Consider your customer gone to the competition if the conversation comes down to this.

6 Phrases Customers Love to Hear
There’s a reason why Chick-fil-A uses the phrase “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome.” These two little words proclaim delight. Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy, was inspired to institute the phrase after a visit to the Ritz Carlton. When Cathy said “thank you” to front desk representative, the response was “my pleasure.” Even though his business was fast food, Cathy felt it important to reply to his customers as if they were at a luxury establishment.

From Entrepreneur magazine, here are six phrases that customers are happy to hear:

1. How can I help you? Customers appreciate the opportunity to explain exactly what they want and need from the service experience.

2. I can solve that problem. These magic words convey that a knowledgeable solution is imminent.

3. I don’t know, but I will find out. Customers certainly appreciate the honesty in this response, but even more the integrity that you will take responsibly in finding the answer personally instead of passing the buck.

4. I will take responsibility. See #3.

5. I will deliver on time. Meeting set timelines and providing a prompt service experience is something everyone who’s ever had to wait on hold or has had a project’s completion perpetually postponed can appreciate.

6. I appreciate your business. Perhaps the best of the six at the end of the day; a step above “thanks,” the word “appreciate” conveys genuine care.

Click here to join the terrific discussion about this article in LinkedIn’s Customer Service Professionals Group.

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