20 Common Customer Service Phrases to Avoid

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20 Common Customer Service Phrases to Avoid

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Customer support is critical to the success of every business. However, when you don’t know which customer service phrases to avoid and which ones to use when communicating with customers, providing excellent service may be a challenge. 

Your choice of language can impact customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and even customer retention. It may cause misunderstandings, confusion, or turn customers away from your business. 

This article will cover 20 customer service phrases you should avoid to improve your relationships with customers.


Which customer service phrases to avoid at work?

1. “No Problem”

Saying that there is no problem might make the customer think that they were bothersome. Instead, when providing a solution to an issue, take ownership of the problem and let the customer know that you are happy to help. You can say, “I am happy to help” or “I’ll do my best to help you resolve this.”

2. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  

This phrase is passive-aggressive and makes the customer feel as though they are being blamed for a bad customer service experience. It doesn’t demonstrate respect or acknowledge their frustration. Instead, show the customer that you understand their pain points and provide a solution to assist them. 

3. “I don’t know.”

Excellent customer service requires strong listening skills to understand the customer’s needs and concerns. Avoid simply saying that you don’t know the answer because this might suggest you are unwilling to help. 

Instead, show the customer what you are going to do to help them. You can use additional phrases such as “Let me check that for you” or “I’ll be glad to look into that for you.” It’s completely fine if you don’t know the answer,  just show the customer that you will make an effort to find out and help them.

4. “You should have…”

Accusing a customer of doing something wrong is not an effective customer service approach. If you sense that the customer has made a mistake, take a customer-centric approach and acknowledge their experience to build customer loyalty. 

Use phrases such as “I’m sorry that happened. That can be frustrating. Let’s see what we can do for you.” Avoid pointing fingers even if the customer is at fault.  Instead, take responsibility and look for possible solutions.

5. “That’s not my fault.”  

When something goes wrong with the product or service, the customer might take their frustrations out on you. Saying “that’s not my fault” will only aggravate them more. Becoming defensive could even escalate customer complaints when the customer realizes that you are unwilling to help them resolve their issues. 

Even if you are not the one responsible for the problem, you should still show that you are willing to help.

6. “It’s our policy.”   

Saying that something is against policy insinuates that there are no exceptions for those who fall outside those guidelines. 

You might not be able to make an exception, but you should at least try to provide an alternative solution. 

You can use customer-centric language such as “I can understand why you would want to do this. I’d be happy to check with my manager on the best way we could approach this.” In some cases, you could offer other solutions to requests that fall outside your customer service policy. Customer satisfaction should be your goal, so you will need to think outside of the box and get creative!

7. “No one else has ever complained about that before.”

Customers who had a negative customer experience need to be heard and not simply brushed off. If they believe that something went wrong, it is your responsibility to actively listen and try to solve the issue. 

If nobody else has complained about the same issue, it doesn’t mean that the customer doesn’t have a valid concern. 

Clients won’t appreciate hearing phrases such as “I’ve never heard of that before” or “That doesn’t make sense.” Those are dismissive customer service phrases to avoid. Instead, try saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry to hear about your experience. Let’s see what I can do for you.”

8. “It’s very busy right now.”

Nothing frustrates customers more than not receiving immediate customer service when they need it. 

Saying that you are very busy right now might make customers think your company does not value their time or satisfaction. This could lead to customer complaints via social media channels and negative word-of-mouth marketing. 

Instead, use customer service phrases such as “I’m sorry to keep you waiting” or “I apologize for the wait.” These expressions acknowledge that the customer’s time is valuable and that customer service is one of your top priorities.

9. “That’s not my department.”

If customer interactions are not resolved, customers might feel that your company does not care about their experience. Or, even worse, that you feel you don’t have to communicate with other team members to resolve the issue. 

To redirect the customer to the correct department, you can say, “I will be glad to put you in touch with our Technical Support team. They will assist you right away.” This approach shows customer concern and demonstrates that you will do whatever it takes to resolve customer complaints.

10. “It can’t be done.”   

This customer service phrase conveys a lack of power and control on your part. Customers might feel frustrated that customer service is not willing to go the extra mile for them. 

Alternatively, customer service phrases such as “I’ll see what I can do” or “I will try my best to help you out today” will express your willingness to find a resolution. It also shows that you do have some level of control over the customer issue at hand.

11. “I’m not sure…”

This phrase makes your customer feel like they can’t trust you to provide excellent customer service, which is not what you want them to think! 

A customer should be able to get help from customer service representatives with confidence. Instead of saying you are unsure about their question, you can say: “I’m happy to answer your questions today.” This customer service response will give customers the impression that you are knowledgeable and experienced.

12. “That’s not my job…”

This expression makes your customer feel like they are being passed around from one person to another and that you won’t answer their question. Neither option will leave them satisfied.

Even if the question is outside of your area expertise, do your best to assist the customer. Either do your research and find the answer they are looking for or connect them with someone who can help. 

Instead of saying, “It’s not my job,” you can ask, “How can I be of assistance?” It makes the customer feel important and shows enthusiasm and willingness to help.

13. “There’s nothing more I can do…”

This sentence is frustrating and disappointing for customers, as it implies they are not important enough for your company. You should be willing to go the extra mile for customer satisfaction, even if the customer issue seems minor.

Instead of saying there’s nothing more you can do, try using customer service phrases such as “I want to make sure that you have a positive customer service experience.” This statement shows customer concern and reassures them they matter to your company, which may lead to future business from this customer.


14. “That doesn’t make sense.”

Telling the customer that what they are saying makes little sense can offend them, which is definitely not your goal. A customer might feel that you lack respect for their feelings and aren’t eager to help them. Instead, try saying: “I’m sorry, I may have missed something…could you please explain what you mean?” This alternative shows empathy and concern.

15.  “You’re wrong.”

A customer should never be blamed for an issue. Even if it feels like the customer is at fault, avoid language that comes off sounding rude and judgemental. 

It’s best to avoid this phrase and instead acknowledge a customer’s feelings without blaming them. For example, you can say: “I appreciate your feedback” or “I can hear what you are saying.”  These sound more empathetic and respectful.

16. “That’s not what I said.”

If the customer misunderstood you, don’t respond with, “I didn’t say that” or “No, you heard me wrong.” This can make them feel uncomfortable and defensive, so these are all customer service phrases to avoid when communicating with clients.

It is best to apologize for any confusion and clarify the information. In this scenario, you can say, “I can understand where you might have been confused” or “I apologize for the confusion. Let me clarify what I meant to say.” 

This shows that you can relate to their situation and empathize with their complaint. It also demonstrates that you are ready to work together to find a resolution.

17. “You’re not listening!”

This statement implies that customers are not a priority to you or your company. It gives the impression that you do not value their concerns and therefore don’t take them seriously. 

Allow the customer to express themselves and show that you are listening. Instead of telling them to listen, try saying: “I’m hearing that this is important to you.” You can also say, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I would be happy to explain our policies if you’d like.”

18. “This is (another employee or department)’s fault.”

That’s another example of customer service phrases to avoid. A customer might feel that you are trying to someone else instead of taking responsibility for their concerns. That sounds unprofessional and is not what you want! 

A more productive approach would be to say things like: “I’m sorry this is happening” or “I would like to help you resolve this issue.” 

19. “Calm down.”

This phrase is frustrating and patronizing for customers who are already upset with your organization. Telling someone to calm down can have the opposite effect and trigger even more negative emotions.

If a customer is disappointed, it is helpful to acknowledge their feelings and apologize for the situation. Try the following expressions: “I would be frustrated too if I were in your shoes” or “I can see why you are upset. I would feel the same way.” This way, you are allowing them to express their emotions without being judged.

20. “I can’t do that.”

Saying “I can’t” is not a good idea because it implies that you aren’t willing to bend the rules and do what’s best for them. A more effective customer service phrase might be: “I’ll see what I can do.” This shows that you are trying to assist and be empathetic without promising results. 

Choose powerful customer service phrases

As you can see, language is powerful and directly affects how people feel and think. Using negative phrases like the ones above can make customers feel unheard, unimportant, and frustrated. Choose your words carefully to show empathy and concern. 

Communication is a skill that can be improved with practice and by being aware of the words you use. Learning what not to say is just as important as knowing what should be told!

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