Customer Experience News & Trends

15 words customers hate to see and hear

Using the wrong words will ruin the experience anywhere along the customer journey.

Many words and phrases turn off customers whether they’re splashed on marketing material, written in sales proposals or said during a customer service interaction.

Some carry deeper meaning and scare off customers. Some carry no meaning and leave customers with unanswered questions.

What to avoid and why

Here’s what to avoid, why they’re poor choices and suggestions on alternatives:

  1. Teach. Unless they’ve signed up for a lesson, customers don’t want to be taught. It conjures up images of sitting in a classroom, listening to something that’s not interesting. Try, “I want to share this with you …”
  2. Buy. It creates a vivid image of having to hand over money. Show them the benefit. Say, “When you own the new model …”
  3. Learn. Learning feels like it’ll suck time and energy — two things that are in short supply. Try discover. “You’ll discover why our service is superior.”
  4. Advice. Unless customers flat-out ask for your “advice,” avoid offering it. If you want to steer them in one direction, say something like this: “We’ve had a similar experience in the past, and found that this works.”
  5. Details. The devil really is in the details. Like the devil, customers want to avoid details. They sound trivial and time-consuming. Instead, offer “more insight.”
  6. Case study. Most customers don’t have time or inclination to hear a whole story on why you and your product are superior. Use, success stories. Hearing a story is much more inviting: “We posted three short success stories on our website.”
  7. Contract. It sounds binding and final. That’s intimidating. Try agreement. “I can have an agreement ready when you’re ready.”
  8. Hope. It suggests you aren’t sure about what you offer. Be 100% behind what you do. Don’t tell customers, “I hope you’ll enjoy it.” Say, “I know you’ll enjoy this.”
  9. Quota. Mentioning a quota implies you’re just trying to hit numbers, not do what’s best for customers. Keep that term to yourself. There’s no alternative.
  10. Maybe. Maybe never helps your case, whether you’re pitching, selling or helping. Give customers information you know is right. Tell them when you need to dig deeper to ensure they get the most up-to-date information.
  11. Obviously. What’s obvious to you isn’t to your customers. Some people feel it’s a condescending term. Don’t write it or say it.
  12. Cheap. You might have the lowest price around, but this word suggests the quality is low. Talk about value for investment or affordability.
  13. Cheaper. You don’t want to compare your products or service in terms of cost. It devalues what you offer. If customers want to know if you or another company is less expensive, they can find out without you comparing.
  14. Competitor. You don’t have to pretend competition doesn’t exist. But, like “cheaper,” you don’t often need to compare what you have to other companies. But be prepared to make comparisons if they ask. Say, “Another company …”
  15. Problem. It sounds and feels negative. When necessary, say, “challenges” or “concerns.”

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