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Magic Customer Service Words – Part 3

magic customer service words

Magic Customer Service Words - Part 3

This is part three of the four-part series on Magic Customer Service Words

We’re examining “Positive” and “Negative” language – and the ability language has to influence or create rapport with customers. Here are the next two magic customer service words: (To see the other parts in the series, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 4)


“Let’s see if we can figure this out.”

(alt: “Let’s see what we can do”, “Let’s figure out how to fix it,” etc.) These are simple, but powerful phrases everyone needs to have in their toolkits.  It is an absolute imperative first-response phrase for people who work in call centers – particularly call centers that are involved in technical support or service recovery.  It needs to be the first words out of our mouths after a customer has told us that he or she is having a “Problem.”

Typically, our first response when customers say they have a problem something like, “What seems to be the problem?” or “Can I get your account number please?”  These are important questions, to be sure, but they are secondary to the statement that conveys to a customer that this is important to you, and you’re going to do your best to make things better.

You want to convey right off the bat that:

A. You want a positive outcome (“Figure out how to fix it”) and;

B. You’re in this together (“Let’s”)

When a customer calls up and says, “I have a problem,” it’s amazing how much more smoothly things go when the answer is something like, “Wow – I’m really sorry to hear that.  Let’s see if we can figure this out.  Can you tell me what’s happening?”



While it’s okay for customers to say it, when we use the word “problem,” it can turn into… well… a Problem.

We reviewed over 300 recorded customer service calls where things had gone sideways, and “Problem” was the most common trigger word.

It’s not that problems don’t exist, of course.  They do.  We simply need to avoid using the word around customers.

There are a lot of alternative words with less risk of triggering a negative response: challenge, situation, issue. etc.  The word “problem” has connotations of something that is a roadblock; something that is Very Serious. And it can instantly raise the emotion level with a customer.

Imagine, for example, saying to a customer, “Oh, there seems to be a problem with your account.” You can imagine the customer’s immediate reaction: “What problem? Oh my gosh, there’s a problem? There shouldn’t be any problem!”

Now, maybe the ‘problem’ was just something simple, like the wrong contact information  being on file.  But because we used the ‘P’ word, we got the customer all worked up for nothing.  It could have been presented with different words, such as:  “Oh, we seem to have a bit of a glitch with some of the information in your file…”  The message would be the same – that there is something that needs to be addressed – but it wouldn’t trigger quite the same emotional response.

That’s it! Check out the 4th and final installment of Magic Customer Service Words. .

Do you have any suggestions for other Magic Customer Service Words or Phrases?  Please shout them out on our Facebook page – we’d love to hear from you!

Reprinted with permission from the Winning at Work newsletter

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