Killer Words: What to Avoid When Talking to Customers

Killer Words What To Avoid When Talking To Customers

In almost every industry, customer interaction is a necessity. It’s at this critical stage where companies can make or break their future success by how they respond to product or service issues, customer complaints and overall negative feedback.

While service pros or contractors may require their employees to respond in certain ways during sensitive situations, knowing what to say is not nearly as important as knowing what NOT to say. When working with customers through challenging situations, these four reactions should be avoided at all times.

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Please Calm Down

“Please Calm Down”

Whether in the field or over the phone, contractors may encounter customers who are upset about certain services rendered. They are more likely to escalate their frustration if they are immediately met with challenging dialogue. Rather than telling a customer to “please calm down,” having a listening ear and allowing the customer to express themselves is the best course of action. In most cases, the customer simply wants to express their frustrations and, when given the opportunity to do so, will be much more receptive to working with you to find a solution for their home servicing needs.

“It’s Not Our Fault”

Nothing adds fuel to the fire more than a contractor not willing to take responsibility for a customer’s dissatisfaction. When working directly with homeowners, it doesn’t matter whether the customer is dissatisfied with the service itself or faulty tools and equipment that was used. At the end of the day, if you are the one receiving payment for services rendered, then it is your fault. Be ready and willing to accept this fact and you will immediately help ease the customer’s mind knowing that you will do what you need to in order to fix the problem, even if this means scheduling another visit to the customer.

I Cant Help You

“I Can’t Help You”

By extension, whether you’re a contractor, field service technician or an office manager, when you take a customer service call, you are now responsible for the overall happiness of that homeowner. So when a customer has a problem, it’s up to you to help fix the situation. A customer doesn’t want to hear “I can’t help you,” as this acts as an extension of “sorry, not my problem.” In many cases, service technicians are able to answer all customer queries at the job site, but if you are not able to answer the question directly, never tell the customer you can’t help them. Rather, set a realistic timeframe with the customer to find an appropriate solution for them and follow up with a resolution.

I Dont Know How Long It Will Take

“I Don’t Know How Long It Will Take”

When on a job site, never make your customers feel like you’re unprepared to handle their service requirements. Qualified contractors and service technicians are able to make a good judgment call on the scale of a project and communicate lead times effectively to a customer. By telling a customer you don’t know how long their job will take, it scares customers into thinking the job will be unaffordable or that it won’t be done properly. If you are unsure exactly how long a service will take, give the customer a few different scenarios with best and worst-case time frames.


By avoiding using these killer words in your dialogue with customers, you’ll be able to avoid escalating customer frustrations and instead focus on bringing more attention to your quality customer service.

Josh Nadeau is a contributing writer for mHelpDesk, a top-rated field service management solution. He is an experienced sales and marketing professional with specializations in SMB/SME development, internet technology, cybersecurity, digital marketing, and SEO.