3 Phrases Customer Service Professionals Should Avoid Using

Customer Service Training Resource
September 2, 2013 — 4,845 views  
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“I don’t know.”

While some customers may admire you for your honesty, most customers will ask to speak to someone who does know. Almost all customers will become irritated or frustrated when they hear, “I don’t know.” You can be honest with customers without giving the impression that they are wasting their time speaking with you. You can say something like, “That’s a good question. Let me find out for you.” Supervisors can help new customer service representatives avoid having to say this phrase by providing adequate training that will cover anything a customer might ask about. Experienced customer service representatives can help their coworkers avoid having to say “I don’t know” simply by sharing their experiences with each other. 

“You need to…” / “You didn’t…” / “If you had...”

Think about what you are trying to accomplish for the long term if you decide to point out a mistake that the customer made. It may be a good idea to help a regular customer avoid repeating the same error, but you must do so tactfully and courteously. You can even use such a situation to increase customer satisfaction. A good way to handle this might be to say, “I can understand why you got frustrated. Things will go more smoothly next time if you____.” 

You may feel better if you make the customer realize that they were the one who caused a problem, not you or your coworkers, but you will end up losing the customer. The customer may already know that they were the one who caused the problem, but does not want to admit it. This may be one situation in which the less said the better. The customer may not say anything to you, but they will most likely be grateful if you take care of the problem quickly and quietly. Grateful customers are loyal customers.

“That’s not my department.”

Customers are not interested in how your store or your company is organized. If a customer hears this phrase they will get frustrated and probably think that you are intentionally trying to put an obstacle in their way, or they will think that you are trying to avoid having to deal with their problem. You can often avoid saying this phrase by taking a second to think. If the customer asks where they can find something in a store, tell them if you know. If you do not know, tell the customer, “One moment and I’ll find out.” Then find someone who can help the customer. If helping the customer means unlocking a cabinet or opening someone else’s register, politely let the customer know that it may take a few minutes. If the customer is on the telephone and you need to transfer them, it might help to say something like, “Thanks for being so patient. I need to transfer you to someone who can help you with that.”

Customer Service Training Resource