9 Customer Service Phrases That Pressure Cook Problems [Infographic]

9 Customer Service Phrases That Pressure Cook Problems [Infographic]

Updated April 23, 2024

Have you ever reached out to a company’s customer service department only to be more annoyed after communicating with them? Frequently, long wait times only exacerbate frustrations that you already have.

Luckily, text messaging can be a great tool to build strong relationships with your clients. Your business can benefit from its speed and potential to communicate at scale. When it comes to customer outreach, especially with mass text messaging, practice really does make perfect. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try different problem-solving tactics — as long as you avoid these 9 customer service phrases.

Customer Service Phrases to Avoid

Your business success hinges on your ability to communicate with customers. Some of these customer service phrases might be ingrained in your consciousness after years of being on the receiving end of them, but if you want to strive for best-of-class customer support, it’s important to find different ways to communicate.

Remember, at the end of the day, if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.

customer service

1. Let me look into that

The problem with “let me look into that” is the customer doesn’t know if you actually will look into it — or when. In the back of their minds, they think they’ll end up calling you back, sitting on hold for another 30 minutes, and working their way through the system again to maybe get an answer.

What to say instead: Instead of being vague, try giving your customer a solid action plan that you intend to follow. You don’t have to give them an entire report of the exact steps you’ll take to solve their problem, but explain to them how you’ll look into it, when they can expect to hear back from you, and how you’ll contact them to follow up.

2. Unfortunately, no…

First off, no one wants to hear no — even if it’s the truth. The word “no” makes people either tune you out or double down on their aggression. Similarly, the word “unfortunately” can come across as hollow. Is it really unfortunate for you, or are you just looking for a way to appear nice while trying to move on to the next problem?

What to say instead: Rather than giving a blunt “no,” try offering alternative options. Bonus points if the other option or solution you come up with is somehow better than what you had to say no to.

3. There’s nothing I can do

Try taking an approach that comes from a place of knowing there’s always something you can do. Even if you’re just listening to the problem and offering a sympathetic ear, it’s better than doing nothing.

What to say instead: Let the person know you understand their frustration and want to find a way to help. Suggest directing them to another party, or let them know that you’ will communicate internally to find an alternate solution.

4. Let me correct you on that

This is one of the worst offenders when it comes to customer service phrases to avoid. Being corrected automatically conjures up memories of grade school, discipline, and arguments. Correcting someone puts you on the defense as if you’re the bad guy. That’s probably not a position you want to set yourself up for, and it likely comes off as condescending to whomever you’re speaking to.

What to say instead: Assume that somewhere along the line, you didn’t explain everything to the customer. Offer to clarify or provide additional information so the situation makes more sense.

5. There must have been a miscommunication

This could come across as passive-aggressive. You’re admitting that someone got their wires crossed, but not necessarily taking ownership of that — leaving room to possibly blame the customer. Ultimately, it won’t solve the situation faster — which should be your goal.

What to say instead: Own the fault on this one and suggest that you must have misunderstood. Then, clarify what you said, and try to figure out how to solve the problem quickly.

6. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry

Sometimes you do make legitimate mistakes that you have to apologize for, but don’t go overboard! Say you’re sorry, and then move on to fixing the problem and finding a solution. Ultimately, customers want the same thing you do — to rectify the issue and move on with their day. Saying sorry many times won’t help you get there. Be polite and contrite, then keep going.

What to say instead: Apologize appropriately and then point the conversation in the direction of finding a solution.

7. I have another call coming in, can you hang on?

Another customer service phrase to avoid, this could make the caller feel like their problem doesn’t really matter and they aren’t seen as a valuable customer to your company. No matter how small their contribution to your business is, you should never alienate a customer in this way. It might even give them anxiety that you won’t actually come back to them, and you’re just looking for a convenient way to get out of the conversation with them.

What to say instead: You can kindly ask if it’s all right to put them on hold while you find a solution. If you do have a call incoming, you can return it after you finish your conversation.

8. I don’t have any record of your purchase/account/claim

This can be kind of terrifying for a customer, because it instantly makes them feel like their problem is never going to be solved. If they went so far as to call your customer support line, then you should put in the effort to triple-check that you haven’t missed anything.

What to say instead: Sometimes people forget which address, phone number, or email they used to make their order. Try to find out if the order could possibly be under a different identifier, or if they’re looking at the wrong order number. Let them know what methods you can use to track an order, and see if that jogs their memory.

9. That’s not something I can do

Even if you can’t help with a particular request, leaving the customer with no alternative options for solving their problem can be very frustrating for them. It could make them disillusioned with your company and annoyed at the extra work they have to go through to find the right person who can actually help them.

What to say instead: If you aren’t able to help them with their problem, offer to connect them to your supervisor or the next appropriate person who might be able to find a solution.

General Customer Support Tips

Customer support doesn’t always happen in real time. Sometimes you’re answering emails or texts to the company’s short code number. Even though these situations can be less heated, it’s still important to remember the overarching principles and key phrases for customer service, so that you can respond in the most helpful way possible.

Here are six tips that come in handy no matter what kind of customer service situation you find yourself in:

  1. Don’t take it personally. You are more than just a customer service representative, and this singular situation will not define your entire career. Breathe, relax, let the bad vibes go, and respond with calmness, using one of the suggestions from the customer service phrases above.
  2. Show off your personality. This increases trust and helps people relate to you and the solution.
  3. Don’t rely on automation. While automation brings a lot of value, especially with email and automated text messages, your customers should get you — not your automated bot in service situations. An automated bot can direct customers to help articles and connect them with the proper department, but you should try to have a real person around to answer their questions.
  4. Prioritize a solution. Instead of focusing on the problem, work towards results. Use all of your resources to troubleshoot a solution, and when in doubt, let the customer know that you’ll be talking with your supervisor to get more help.
  5. Don’t sacrifice your safety. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, ask for help. You don’t have to put up with abuse from any customers just to keep them happy.
  6. Once the problem has been solved, move past it. Get over problems quickly and move on to whatever’s next.

Regardless of whether you communicate with your customers by phone, email, or using an online text messaging service, all of the principles stated above remain. You must find ways to connect with your customers on a deeper, more genuine level and handle issues with the utmost care. Put yourself in their shoes and bend over backward for them as often as you can — but don’t compromise your own safety or mental health to do so.

Manage Your Customer Service with SlickText

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