Customer Experience News & Trends

Is your customer stretching the truth? 5 ways to spot a lie

A Pinocchio nose won’t give away liars on the phone or online these days. But these signs will help you spot one.

Contact center agents can often see through even the best liars when they know the signs of a fibber, according to communications expert and Troy Media columnist Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman.

Here are five telltale signs that a customer is giving you tall tale:

  1. Bad timing. Liars often plan their fake responses, so they answer questions more quickly than customers telling the truth. When taken by surprise, they take longer to respond because they haven’t had time to conjure up the half-truth.
  2. Changes in tone and rate. When lying, people tend to speak at a higher pitch. They also might ramble, speak faster or stammer.
  3. Use of qualifiers. Liars often try to convince themselves they’re telling the truth by qualifying what they say with phrases such as, “To the best of my knowledge …,” “The way I remember it …,” or “I could be wrong, but …”
  4. Stilted language. Under pressure, liars sometimes try to sound even more convincing by using bigger words and avoiding contractions (which are the norm in spoken conversations).
  5. Disparity between words and tone. It’s often hard to put true emotions into words when lying. So liars end up sounding disappointed when saying, “I’m excited,” or pleasant when saying, “This really upsets me.”


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