Customer service is all about knowing what to say and how to say it. That is, somewhat ironically, easier said than done. 

One thing that can certainly help is bringing more consistency to your interactions. Repeatable phrases are your best bet. Using the right ones can help you convey information in a warm, concise, and genuine manner. They can also give you something to lean on in difficult situations where it’s unclear what you should say. 

On the other hand, the wrong phrases are open to misinterpretation. Either that or they’re simply cliché or robotic. Knowing what they are and why you should avoid them is just as important as knowing the right phrases. 

Let’s start with the latter. Here are six customer service phrases you should be using. 

“I can understand how (blank) that must be.”

This is obviously suitable for upset customers. As for what you replace the (blank) with, it comes down to using your empathy to read their mood and relate with how they’re feeling. Annoying, upsetting, difficult, and infuriating are some of your options. Try not to downplay their emotional state. 

“Happy to help.”

There are fewer customers who will tell you that they’re unhappy than there are customers who will just walk away. That’s why you need to ensure that they’re satisfied before they leave. 

When it comes to writing your closing message, ending with “Let me know if there’s anything else I can assist with” is a good idea. Adding the “Happy to help” assures the customer that there are no wrong questions, and you’re willing to take on anything they might send your way. It’s quick, simple, and highly comforting. 

“Let me find that out for you.” 

You’ll inevitably run into the occasional situation where you don’t know how to solve a customer’s problem or answer their question. The last thing you want to do is say, “I don’t know” or “Sorry, we’ve dealt with that before.”

Instead, use positive language and bring the focus on the solution. Start with something like “Great question!” before letting the customer know that you’re doing something. Avoid bringing any sense of uncertainty into the picture, which is what phrases like “If I remember correctly” or “I’m pretty sure” do – rather, be clear and precise. 

“Thanks for the heads up!” 

As we now know, most customers don’t speak up when there’s an issue. Those who do the opposite and go as far as sending a detailed bug report or explaining a problem with your product are providing a great deal of value. The same is true for customers who give suggestions on how you can make things better. They all deserve some appreciation. 

At the very least, include a “Thanks for bringing this to our attention!” in your conversation. Showing recognition when someone has gone the extra mile to help is how you lay the foundation for lasting relationships.

“I’ll pass this on to the team” 

Telling the customer that their concerns have been recorded and sent to the relevant people is another way to make them feel that they have been heard and appreciated. 

Conversely, you shouldn’t say it if it isn’t true. Be upfront about the situation rather than make them expect a change that never comes. You can keep these interactions positive by providing alternatives and saying “thanks” in any case. 

“I’ve taken a look at the situation”

Oftentimes, conversations need to be transferred due to changes in shifts or issues that require special handling. This can be disconcerting for the customer, especially when they anticipate having to repeat everything they’ve already said. 

Assuring them and confirming that you know what’s going on can help to ease the handover process. It’s worth noting here that the customer should never be put in a situation where they have to repeatedly explain what’s going on. Make internal notes part of the transfer so that no information is lost along the way.  

So, there you have it – these phrases can add a delightful touch to your conversations. As for the phrases that follow, your best bet is to avoid them entirely. 

Here are four customer service phrases you shouldn’t be using. 

“Unfortunately, I can’t do that” 

In Apple’s “book of forbidden customer service words,” some alternatives are suggested to the big no-nos. This includes turning “unfortunately” into “as it turns out.” The core principle is to turn negative language into something positive. 

No customer wants to hear about what you can’t do – especially when it relates to the issue at hand. Rather, focus on what you can do. Anything related to negative language can make the customer feel rejected, which isn’t conducive to your relationship with them. 

“Your call is important to us” 

Is it, though? How important can their call be if you are not answering it? 

It’s one thing to tell your customer that you value their business, but it’s another to show it. Platitudes about the customer’s importance are far too cliché to pass these days. They sound scripted and are usually mentioned when the complete opposite appears to be true. 

“Are there any other problems I can help with?” 

This is a simple case of poor wording. These kinds of phrases have good intentions but can come off negatively, as they imply that there might be other problems. 

“Can you (blank)?”

Anything that increases the perceived effort required by the customer should be avoided, including asking them to solve a problem that shouldn’t exist. For example, you shouldn’t ask them to send you a fax, print a document, or scan a paper. Not in this day and age. Being shuffled around through outdated processes is frustrating. 

That said, it’s sometimes necessary to ask the customer to perform a task that you can’t do yourself. In that case, it’s important to make it appear as a team effort and to explain why the task is necessary. 

As you note down the phrases to use and avoid, remember that authenticity is key. If you only say something when you mean it, you can rest assured that you’re moving in the right direction.