6 Things You Should Never Say to Your Customers

Many people don’t realize that a simple, seemingly innocent comment, when said to an angry customer can turn a concern or complaint into a full-blown argument. When it comes to the words you choose, they can either be water or gasoline on the customer’s smouldering emotions.

If you’d like to be a customer service fire fighter instead of an arsonist, avoid the following phrases when talking with customers– especially when they’re complaining, angry, or upset:

1. “Calm down” Never ask or tell customers to calm down. Doing so will only make them more angry because to them, you’re implying they’re out of control or they don’t have a right to be upset.

customer service pic2. “It’s our policy” Customers don’t care about your policies. In fact, they see your policies as rules you’ve created to make your life easier and theirs more difficult. Assuming your policies are created for the good of your customers, share the RATIONALE behind the policy instead. “You’ll have to fill out this form, otherwise the doctor can’t see you,” becomes, “We ask patients to fill out an information form every year becuase we want to ensure we have the most current insurance information so your benefits aren’t delayed and you’re not overcharged.”

3. “You’ll have to” If you want to see customers do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you want them to do, just go ahead and tell them they HAVE TO do something. In fact, to use a cliche, a customer will “cut off his nose to spite his face,” just to prove to you that he doesn’t HAVE TO do what you say.

4. “You should have” Telling a customer he or she should have done something is the equivalent of calling him or her stupid. As a customer, I don’t want or need you to point out what I should have been smart enough to figure out on my own. Just tell me what I can do about the situation NOW.

5. “As I told you before” First you call me stupid, now you’re implying that I can’t hear or don’t listen. If customers ask you the same question again, it means one of two things, one- they didn’t hear you or didn’t understand, so just share the information again without making the point that you’ve already told them, or two- they didn’t like the answer they received and are looking for a better one.

6. “I can’t” or “You can’t” - Customers don’t want to hear about what you can’t do for them and they certainly don’t want you telling them they can’t do something (see #2 above). Just tell them what you CAN do, or what they CAN do themselves to resolve the issue.


What other customer service words or phrases should be avoided? Feel free to add to the list!

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