12 Phrases to Avoid in Customer Service

customer service phrases

According to Esteban Kolsky, if the customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell to 15 or even more people that they are unhappy. On the other hand, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. However, there are still lots of customers who remain silent and do not share any negative feedback. This, in turn, prevents businesses from improving their customer service level.

We need to be careful with what we say and what we do not say. Right or wrong, many customer service agents don’t even know when they say a word or use a tone that may offend. Even professionals overlook phrases that can potentially turn off customers. Here are 12 phrases you should never say to customers

“I don’t know”

Even if you don’t know something, this does not mean you cannot find that information or just check with your co-workers. Really smart customer service representatives can provide whatever their customers are looking for, even if they have no information at their fingertips. An ability to find the requested information really fast and share it with a customer will make your customer service stand out from the crowd.

“I can’t help with that”

If a customer contacted your company with an issue, your main concern is to help or to find a person who will deal with it. Otherwise your customer will leave frustrated. Instead of saying that you cannot help, ensure that you understand the issue and if it is out of your scope, try to find the person in your organization who will be able to help.

“That’s another department”

Customers are not familiar with ins and outs of your organization. They just want to hear answers to their questions or have their issues resolved. Instead of telling them that you cannot help or that it’s not your job, try to find the person who can.

“I’m sorry”

Ensure that you don’t use this phrase out of context. It carries little significance or impact when used that way. However, if you need to apologize, this is the right context for using it. Additionally, say “I’m sorry” carefully as it may sound robotic if you do this all the time. Our Live Chat Customer Service Cheat Sheet whitepaper provides great examples of alternative expressions.

“You misunderstood me”

It is not always easy to give or to receive information. However, your main task is to ensure your customers understand everything. Rather than allowing emotions to spoil your conversation, keep your tone calm and ensure that everybody understands the situation and all possible outcomes.

“You are wrong”

Your customers can definitely be wrong. But by drawing attention to this you may not only lose a customer but may also get a negative feedback. Instead, you can agree that something may be confusing, try to explain things again and ensure that your customer understands the situation.

“That’s our policy”

Your customers will not be happy to find out that there is something they cannot get. Instead of pointing this out take a minute to sympathize. A little empathy goes a long way.

“That’s not my fault”

Of course not, but your customer does not care about that. An ability to take responsibility and provide professional assistance – this is the skill any smart customer service representative should possess.

“Listen to me”

This is the rudest way to draw attention and show that the customer is not right. In fact, you should listen to your customer and do your best to provide detailed explanation. In addition, you’d need to keep calm and spend as much time with your customer as necessary.

“Don’t worry about that”

You don’t know how any customer handles anxiety or personal and business issues. Instead of asking not to worry about something, you can assure that you will do your best to resolve the issue and will take care of everything.


Instead of telling customers that they misunderstand something and pointing out they are wrong, try to use clarifying questions. This will help both of you to avoid misunderstanding and will keep your conversation tone on a professional level.


By saying “No” directly, you will start with negativity and will not be able to establish connection with your customer. Most likely you will lose that person and will get a negative feedback. No matter whether you could offer an alternative or not.

Instead, you can start with offering the best possible alternative. This will soften the blow of giving negative news and will allow you to provide better customer service.

You are welcome to share the phrases you avoid while communicating with your customers in the comments to the blog post.

11 thoughts on “12 Phrases to Avoid in Customer Service”

  1. This is an excellent article and contents of which should be used by companies to educate their staff on proper customer service methods.

  2. This is a great article and should be presented to Customer Service teams all over especially those that are call centers, in my opinion, they are the worst .
    One area under “Listen to Me” it suggest that you spend as much time as necessary to understand your issue. There are some companies that would disagree with this. As you are trying to explain to this customer, some of your larger accounts are on hold, or being sent to someone else. Again, this article makes very good points…

    1. Thank you for your comment, Rob. I agree that some companies do not like when customers with large accounts are being put on hold. But in this case they need to arrange their workflow another way and create a separate department that will take care of such customers.

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