Words Customers Don’t Want to Hear

This guest article is brought to you by Robert Stevenson, speaker at the 2019 Customer Service Revolution.

Companies spend millions of dollars in advertising trying to attract a customer only to run them off by saying the wrong words. It seems that on a daily basis I will reach some company on the phone and hear the words, “All agents are busy right now helping other customers. Please hold.” If I were their competitor I would see that as a huge opportunity to take business away from them. How companies handle their Personal-Point-of-Contact with their clients or potential clients will determine if they succeed or fail in this highly competitive business environment.


In my opinion, customers don’t want to hear all agents are busy right now. Customers don’t want to go to your website and search for answers. Customers don’t want you to send them a tutorial on how to do whatever they are calling to ask you about. Customers don’t want to have to answer 10 questions to help better direct their call to the right department. We want to TALK to a human. We want to TALK to a nice, friendly and pleasant human. We want to TALK to a highly knowledgeable human. We want to TALK to someone who can give us answers. We want to talk to someone who can help us. You might want to sit down with your associates and talk about all the phrases, statements, and/or words customers hate to hear. Post those words so everyone in your company knows what not to say to a client. Here are a few examples of things customers don’t want to hear:


Ø “You will have to take that up with my supervisor”              Ø “There is no one in who can help you right now”

Ø “There is nothing I can do for you”                                          Ø “Please go to our website”

Ø “I don’t know – I just work here”                                              Ø “That’s not my job”

Ø “All lines are busy now … please hold”                                   Ø “Please e-mail us your complaint”

Ø “I will have to transfer you to another department”

Ø “We are experiencing a high volume of calls … please call back”

Ø “I know the policy is silly, but I didn’t set the policy – management did”

Ø “We take calls in the order received – you have 17 people ahead of you”

Ø “Our company policy doesn’t allow us to do that – I don’t know why – it just doesn’t”


I recently quit doing business with a company who said it would take 72 hours to get me an answer to a problem they had caused. I soon learned that was their standard answer for any problems they caused. Their response caused me to look for another company to work with and within 24 hours I was up and running.  I will never forget one of the statements said to me by the new company I had found. “Mr. Stevenson, don’t you worry about a thing. I will personally walk you through every step and show you how to do it and even do it myself on my end if it gets confusing. Our job is to get you up and running and make things simple for you.”  Needless to say … I was very impressed. She said ALL THE RIGHT WORDS and then delivered.


If you want to find out how good your company is … call it … and see how long it takes you to reach a pleasant person who can help you. Many times, the words your employees or your answering systems say will do nothing but drive business to your competitor. My suggestion is to spend less money on advertising and more money on educating everyone on what ” to say” and ” not to say” to customers. Your advertising might be driving them to your company, but what is said next … may be driving them away, forever.


Your top business strategy should be a satisfied customer.