Customer Experience News & Trends

11 things you should never say to customers

The wrong words can derail a customer experience in a flash. To avoid the crash, here are 11 things you should never say to customers. 

Some are off-putting. Some are subtle slights. Some seem fine to any customer experience professional’s ears, but deafening to customers.

Fortunately, there are other ways to express each sentiment without using the words that bother customers most. That way you can do your job, get the situation resolved and keep customers happy.

Here’s what to avoid – and what to say instead.

No. 1: ‘No problem’

Reason to avoid: It starts with a negative. It sounds lazy. And “no problem” has a tendency to sound like, “It’s a hassle, but I guess I’ll do it.”

Say instead: “Absolutely!” “I can take care of that right now.”

No. 2: ‘I think you’re confused’

Reason to avoid: You’re shifting blame for a miscommunication to the customer. It could be your fault. You want to make customers feel good about the interaction and themselves.

Say instead: “Let me clarify.”

No. 3: ‘I have to follow the rule’

Reason to avoid: You probably do have to stay in line with company policies and procedures. But this statement makes it sound like you want to distance yourself from your company. You and your company also appear to be inflexible. Yes, rules exist, but you don’t have to sound hand-tied.

Say instead: “What I can do in this situation is this … or this …. What do you prefer?”

No. 4: ‘It is what it is’

Reason to avoid: You might say this to soften a harder message, but it still comes across as, “You’re out of luck, pal.” You want to give customers empathy, concrete answers and solid solutions.

Say instead: “I understand how this would frustrate you. I have some ideas on what we can do to take care of this. Let’s look at some possibilities …”

No. 5: ‘Have you tried our website?’

Reason to avoid: Customers who contact you have either tried the website and couldn’t find what they needed or prefer to deal with a person. So it’s better to stick with personal help before suggesting another route.

Say instead: “I can help you with this.” After you’ve resolved the issue or solved the problem, say, “If you’re interested, I can direct you to our help page, where you can find useful information at any time.”

No. 6: ‘Here’s the deal …’

Reason to avoid: It’s slang, and any form of slang isn’t professional. Sure, we work in a less formal world these days. But customers still want to be met with professional respect when they reach out for answers and help.

Say instead: “Let me explain what happens next …” or “Here’s what I’ll do now …”

No. 7: ‘That sounds just like …’

Whether you compare one customer to another customer, your mother, colleague, husband or best friend, by saying he is similar to others is a form of dismissing his concern, idea or question. Instead, say, “I can help with this.”

Reason to avoid: All customers feel like they are your only customer. So they don’t want to be compared to other customers (especially if you suggest they sound like complainers!) It also comes across like you’re dismissing their concerns, ideas or questions.

Say instead: “I’m happy to help with this.”

No. 8: ‘I get how you feel right now, but you really shouldn’t …’

Customers may tell you outright, “I’m angry,” “I’m elated” or “I’m frustrated” so the first part of this sentence is correct. You do know how they’re feeling. The problem is, it’s never a good idea to tell customers why they should or shouldn’t feel one way or another. Instead, say, “I can understand why you’d feel that way. Let’s see what we can do now.”

Reason to avoid: Empathy is important, but you certainly don’t want to tell them they should feel differently. That won’t change their emotions or fix the issue that has caused the emotion.

Say instead: “I can understand how you might feel, and I want to make things right again. Let’s get to work on this.”

No. 9: ‘I’m not the best person for this, so I’ll send you to …’

Reason to avoid: In customers’ minds, you’re the person to handle their question or issue because you responded. You might know you aren’t the best person. The difference is you want to tell them you know someone even better.

Say instead: “I can help, but Alex is the expert in that area. Can you stay on the line while I bring him in on this?”

No. 10: ‘Sure’

Reason to avoid: While it’s a positive response, it can come across to customers negatively. The wrong tone can make “sure” sound like “whatever.”

Say instead: “I can do that!” or “Yes!” or “Let me handle it.”

No. 11: That sounds about right, but …

Reason to avoid: This phrase starts out OK, then there’s a “but.” It suggests the customer has it wrong, not just “about right,” and you’re right.

Say instead: “I see what you’re saying, and please bear with me while I share what I understand.”

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