5 Sayings That Will Ruin Your Customer Service Experience

* – * – *

Whether you have a whole team handling customer complaints or support, or if it’s just you, commit these phrases to memory and never EVER use them to skimp on the quality of customer service you provide:

That’s our policy.

This is a phrase that is less than useless. It is destructive. It’s the customer service equivalent to “That’s tough” or “You’re out of luck.” It’s primary purpose is to shut down a conversation. It only accelerates the transformation of current customers into a former customers, and was undoubtedly crafted by someone completely oblivious to the value of customer retention. Customers should not accept contract verbiage as an excuse for a less-than-promised product or service. “That’s our policy” might save a current sale, though all future business will likely be lost.

There’s nothing I can do

There’s ALWAYS an option—such as returning the customer’s money. Even if there really IS nothing you can do about it right now, offering work arounds, information, ANYTHING is better than “There’s nothing I can do”. Focus your team on problem solving rather than problem diverting. Give them the freedom to find creative alternatives. Reward them for innovative solutions and brushfires doused.

Would you mind holding for a moment?

Of course they mind. “I’m going to put you on hold while speak with my supervisor, and I’ll check back with you in a minute or so if I haven’t an answer by then.” Sure. It’s long-winded, but considerably more satisfying for your already frustrated customer.

You’ll have to go to our website.

This is just another way of saying “I can’t help you.” Instead of making your customer hunt around with their browser after they’ve already waited on the phone, email them a link directly to the page or necessary file.

That’s the manufacturer’s responsibility. (or) Our business partner will have to help you.

You’re telling your customers that while you’re happy to take their money at the time of sale, you’re not willing to back them in a crunch. Your customer doesn’t have a financial relationship with your partner, supplier, or manufacturer… and therefore no leverage in negotiating a remedy. You took the customer’s money. So, whatever the problem is, it’s your responsibility to fix.

Never let these phrases pass the lips of your customer service team.

via 5 phrases customers hate the most – Yahoo! Small Business Advisor.


  • Look on the website, is never helpful. Chances are more than likely they have already tried, and failed. That is why they are calling you now. Everyone learns differently, maybe they need you to walk them through it.

  • This is an awesome post because the first two saying – “That’s our policy” and “There’s nothing we can do” – have caused me to switch hosts, cancel accounts and make huge complaints to different business’ service departments. I’m not the pickiest person in the world, but I do want a little respect and telling me about rules means nothing when I need something done – especially if the “policy” means making changes will cost ME more money!

    • Exactly! I think I try even harder to make sure I never utter these things, regardless of employer, because I remember too clearly how it felt to be on the receiving end

  • This is some really good advice and, speaking from someone who has worked at a Customer Service job, I agree with everything you say. However, sometimes it’s not necessarily down to the team, but the company. I’ve worked with companies where I have tried to help the customer – but the company usually overrid my want to help with the whole “its in our t&c’s BS”. So even if the people want to help the customer, the company will usually force them into sticking with their policies.

    That being said, I always tried to help customers whenever I could as I always believe customer service is important. As a further point to what you said about putting customers on hold, my favourite response to that was “let me take your number and give you a call back.” Nine times out of ten customers are happy to do this as it saved their phone bil.

    Great post!

    • So true Dan! Companies need to modify their policies so that their CS teams CAN offer a better experience. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *