4 Negative phrases to avoid during customer support interactions

Before they begin taking calls, call center agents must undergo training so they can adopt the tone, approach, and values of the brand they represent. They must also get acquainted with the culture of the customers they’ll be interacting with.

Through training sessions, managers can help agents understand what’s required of them. However, this doesn’t ensure that employees won’t commit slip-ups. Even when employees are aware of your policies and practices, there’ll be instances when they’d make some mistakes.

For example, agents may sometimes respond to customers in a negative manner. This often happens when they must turn down requests or when a conversation becomes heated. This, however, is something that must always be avoided.

frustrated woman with landline telephone to forehead

Generally, people respond better to customer support statements that are phrased in a positive way. Proactive statements tend to be more persuasive, inciting equally positive actions from the message receiver. For instance, “Speak your mind” sounds more encouraging than “Don’t bottle it up.” When we begin our statements with words like don’t or no, people tend to perceive the statement as a form of rejection. When used in customer interactions, this may lead customers to feel that they aren’t being treated well by a brand.

In contrast, affirmative words such as definitely, gladly, and certainly can uplift the mood of a conversation. Using words like these can incite positive emotions, which leads to a better customer experience.

Here are four negative statements agents must avoid and some possible alternatives.


1.     “Calm down!”

angry businessan holding pen during phone call

Instead of ordering an irate customer to get their emotions in check, you can use phrases like this:

“I understand how you are feeling…”

“I know this can be frustrating…”

This assures them that you’re empathizing with them and demonstrates that you’re ready to assist them.


2.     “I don’t know.”

businessman in call center in deep thought

Alternatively, you can inform a client that you’ll need to get back to them with an effective solution to their issue. When facing an issue you’re not knowledgeable about, you can respond with something like this:

“I would love to assist you with this. Let me just verify this information…”

This statement gives customers the impression that you’re willing to find out more about their issues instead of instantly shutting down their concerns.


3.     “What’s your problem?”

confused call center agent holding headset

This one can be too confrontational. Instead of using this question, here are better variations:

“How may I assist you today?”

“What can I help you with?”

When agents ask customers about their issues in a more positive way, it sets the tone of the conversation into a more amicable one. This helps customers feel more comfortable as they communicate with agents.


4.     “Would you like to speak to the supervisor or manager?”

call center agent looking at laptop raising an eyebrow during phone call

Customer support reps must escalate their concerns to their team leader or supervisor only when customers insist or when your protocols dictate so. Otherwise, they may respectfully respond with something like this:

“How would you want your issue to be resolved?”


When call center agents are trained to say the right things in a tactful manner, they can nurture good client relationships and increase customer satisfaction. Through quality monitoring and regular mentoring, you can help your agents improve their communication skills and interact with customers in a better way.



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