10 Customer Service Phrases You Should Not Tell Customers

As a company, one of the most important skills you need to have is effective communication. You will be dealing with different kinds of customers so you need to learn the proper way to talk to them. Not saying the right thing can have a detrimental effect on the entire customer experience. While it is not everything, it plays an important role in effective customer service. 

Communication is the glue that prevents customer experience from falling apart. It demonstrates to customers that you are listening to them and value them. 

When done right, effective communication can lead to happy customers. It means they will not only come back but also encourage their friends to buy from your business. Knowing what to say to customers can make a huge difference in keeping them loyal to your brand. In this article, we take a look at 10 phrases you should not say to customers when providing customer service. 

  • That’s Against Our Policy 

  • That’s Not So Bad 

  • Not Possible/Impossible 

  • It’s Not Our Fault 

  • Calm Down 

  • You’re Wrong 

  • That’s Not My Job 

  • I’m Sorry You Feel That Way 

  • I’m Not Sure

  • You  Shouldn’t Have Done That 

1. That’s Against Our Policy 

Policies can be useful as it can help with building better customer relationships. While something may be against your company policy, do you think customers will be interested in your policy? They are more interested in how you will address their situation. It should never be used as an excuse for not delivering customer service. Effective customer service goes beyond rules and policies. 

Customers want solutions to their concerns. If the request of the customer cannot really be done, offer what you can do to solve the problem. Customers don’t care about your policy because what they want is for the questions or concerns addressed in a timely manner. In addition, you should provide them with a logical explanation on why it is not possible and convince them that it is in their best interest. 

For example, if your company policy does not allow the return of a damaged item, explain it to the customer and offer something like a store discount on their next purchase. Saying “it’s against our policy,” is like saying “No” to the customer. You can find ways to meet the needs of customers and ensure their being loyal customers. 

2. That’s Not So Bad 

For a disgruntled customer, it does not matter if their problem is serious or minor in your eyes. Would they contact you if their concern is not serious enough? Saying something like “that’s not bad” or “that’s not a problem” makes the customer feel silly and unimportant. Downplaying the problem is never a good idea. Remember customers want to feel valued and you can only do that by showing it to them. 

According to Forbes, 68% of customers will not do business with a company that does not value them. To every problem, there is always an easy fix but don’t expect customers to know about it. Always put yourself in the shoes of the customer. You called the customer service department of the store because you wanted the item you bought fixed. How would you feel if the store’s customer service couldn’t get it fixed? Surely you don’t want them to make you silly. Like you, your customers wouldn’t want to be treated that way as well. 

In cases like these, you can make the customers feel valued by showing that you understand the gravity of their situation. Instead of saying “That’s not a problem or that’s not so bad,” replace it with “I understand your issue and I have a solution.” 

3. That’s Not Possible/Impossible 

This statement is tantamount to saying “We are not doing this for you” or “I can’t help you with this.” This is a customer service phrase that you should be avoided at all costs. Yes, honesty is the best policy but when it comes to customer service, there are better ways you can tell the customer that. 

Statistics show that 72 percent of customers consider having to explain their problem to several reps as poor customer service. You want to create satisfied customers and not marginalize them. When you don’t have what they are looking for, you can still create an opportunity for generating goodwill by looking for a workaround or even directing them to a competitor. 

Another workaround to the rejection is to make the customer understand “why” you are rejecting their offer. Once they know the reason, they might be more forgiving. From the customer’s perspective, saying “no” translates to having no empathy for their predicament. Look for a positive way to say “no” to appease the frustrated customer. 

4. It’s Not Our Fault 

It does not matter who is at fault. It can be easy for you to point a finger at the customer but you should avoid passing the buck at all cost. You should provide them with the facts and take ownership. They are already unhappy about their current purchase and blaming them will only make them even more frustrated. 

Customers should be under your protection. You should show some empathy and put yourself in their shoes. It is your job to make things right regardless of who was at fault. Instead of pinning them down and blaming them, the best thing to do is apologize. Whatever caused unhappiness to the customer, you should be genuinely apologetic for their current situation. 

By saying “sorry” to a customer without blaming anyone, it means you acknowledge that there has been a mistake and you want to make it right by moving forward with a solution. Your apology will go a long way in cultivating new relationships and preserving the current ones. Finally, your customers will perceive it as a sign that you truly care about their problem. 

5. Calm Down 

Asking customers to calm down will elicit more anger from the customer. Yes, they need to calm down to effect a solution but telling it to them will make them more irate. The best thing to do is let them vent their ire and show empathy using phrases like “I see,” and  “I understand.” Eventually, they’ll calm down on their own allowing you to proceed with the resolution to their problem. 

Let’s put it this way. How would you feel if an agent asks you to calm down in the middle of an upsetting experience? Wouldn’t you feel insulted or irritated? Wouldn’t you feel angrier? Now imagine the feeling of customers if they were in the same situation. In difficult situations, the best way to calm customers down is to show empathy for them. 

The best thing you can do is let the customer speak their frustrations out. Listen to their problems and once the tension has been diffused and the customer has calmed down, discuss the solution with them. Fix the problem and verify if the customer is satisfied with your proposed solution. 

6. You’re Wrong 

This is a no-no. You don’t tell the customer that they are wrong. There is a golden rule among customer service representatives that you should never question the customer’s point of view. If the customer is wrong, explain yourself using facts or other sources. Customers can go wrong but you don’t need to point it out to them. 

Customers deserve some respect from your end. You can be easily tempted to tell them they are wrong but this could mean you are discounting their feelings and making them feel foolish. It could only escalate the situation. Instead of telling them that they are wrong, focus on helping them with their issue. 

Maybe your customer is misinformed or has decided on a solution they think is best for them but is not the best for them or the organization, based on your experience, education, and expertise. The key to telling customers they are wrong is to disagree gracefully and artfully weave an alternative solution into the conversation. 

7. That’s Not My Job 

Let’s face it. 1 out of every 10 customers will have concerns that are way out of your job description. Instead of telling them to find someone who can help them with concern, why not do it yourself? Find someone in the team who can address their concern and transfer the call or chat to them. Another way is to tell them that someone will contact them as soon as possible. 

Never say “That’s not my job” because it denotes that you don’t feel empowered to make decisions. Just because something is out of your job description does not mean you won’t do it. Instead of saying “That’s not my job,” you can say “I’d like to help out but I don’t have the capacity right now.” 

If you are looking for career advancement, refusing to take another job wouldn’t help you achieve that goal. Management may perceive you as someone unwilling to go above and beyond or lazy and accommodating. It goes to say that you should always say “yes” but accept or reject a job in a way that will benefit both parties. 

8. I’m Sorry You Feel That Way 

Humans can easily pick up on social cues. When an apology seems insincere, they can easily sense it. An apology is designed to repair a relationship so a bad apology will be more harmful than no apology at all. Saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” does not take ownership and does not admit fault. 

It takes time to create a genuine apology that can help strengthen your relationship with the customer. It starts with acknowledging your fault. Instead of feeling sorry for the customer, say that you understand where they are coming from. By doing so, you could win back a customer whom you might have lost otherwise. The point of your conversation with the customer is not to apologize for what they feel but for your own actions and words. 

When apologizing to the customer, do not include the word “but.” The conversation is not about you but about them – the customer. It’s about how you can make them understand that you get HOW and WHY you hurt them. 

9. I’m Not Sure 

Don’t assume that you know the answer to every situation. But don’t tell that to the customer. You shouldn’t give the customer an answer you are unsure of either. Doing so might lead them in the wrong direction. Just because you work in a company does not mean you already know the ins and outs of certain projects. In fact, even in your own department, you may not have the right answer to certain situations. 

Answering “I’m not sure” won’t do the customer any favors or make you look better. If you are not sure how to address your customer, the best thing to do is refer them to the right person or department who can better answer your question. 

Saying “I’m not sure” is a sign of helplessness and lack of competence. It is best to search for more information to get a better idea of what you are saying. Good customer service is not always about knowing the right answer but finding the right answer so that your customers don’t have to themselves. 

10. You Shouldn’t Have Done That 

While it can be true that your customer should not have done what they had done, telling them won’t change their situation. It could even make them feel angry and embarrassed. This is another case of blaming the customer. You can no longer turn back the time so instead, work on finding a solution. 

Since not every situation is not entirely your fault, it can be easy for you to put the fault on the customers. Even if it is the customer’s fault, you should not give them such a feeling. They might know that it is their fault, but you should not insist on it. 

There are instances when your customer may be at fault but as much as possible you should not show them that. Even if their action resulted in the problem being addressed, you should not make them feel sorry even more. Again, focus on the solution and move on from the problem. 

As a customer service agent, you will be confronted with different kinds of customers. Effective customer service boils down to being able to manage the emotions and moods of your customers.   Knowing what to say and avoid is part of being able to handle volatile situations. 

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