Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Customer-service phrases we hate

You're not going to keep customers happy if what you're really saying is 'I don't care.'

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2010 6:31PM

You’ve been there: You’re trying to check out a DVD at the video store, but the clerk is too busy on the phone -- and it’s a social call.


Could she possibly make time in her busy schedule to rent us a movie?

Bad customer service plagues all of us, so we can all relate to  a post about customer-service phrases we hate to hear -- and ones we should hear more often -- at My Super-Charged Life.


But first, let’s discuss why this is so important. We all have customers we have to serve in our work lives, Jeff writes. “Every customer that is willing to give their money to you in return for your product or service is a gem that you need to protect and coddle,” he says.


That means you have to take responsibility for the customers' desires and keep them smiling. You won’t do that when you say things like these from Jeff’s list (which we’ve paired with offerings from his companion list of good CS responses):

  • “The computer won’t let us do that.” That may be true, but why not say: “I’m going to personally make sure this gets resolved for you.” Now you’re talking.
  • “I don’t know.” That contains the unspoken but implied “I don’t care.”  Better to go with: “I’m not sure, but let me find someone who can help you.”

Other do-not-care responses include: “We can’t take care of that here” and “That is not my responsibility.”

Jeff’s post actually has 12 different “enthusiastic phrases we’d all like to hear more often.” Among them:

  • “Your satisfaction is our top priority. What can I do for you today?”
  • “What can I do to make this right for you?”
  • “I can take care of this for you in no time at all.”

In no time, you say? If that’s your promise, we hope you can follow through.


Case in point: A store charged us the regular price for canned goods rather than the sale price. We didn’t notice until days later -- Tip: Always check your receipt at the store -- but we still had the receipt. A CS rep told us on the phone that because we didn’t catch the error on the day of the sale, we were out of luck.


We drove to the store, and the rep changed her tune -- but the entire transaction took more than a half-hour.


Jeff would likely not approve of that. He writes:

It really doesn’t take all that much effort to impress customers with our level of service.  We just need to put ourselves in their shoes. Treat others like you want to be treated and your service will be golden!

Have you encountered unresponsive or otherwise bad customer service recently? Did you complain, accept your lot, or vow never to go back?


Related reading:

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.