Skip to main content
call center agent talking on phone to angry customer

6 Phrases That Upset Your Call Center Customers (and How to Avoid Them)

What if you accidentally ruined someone’s day with just a few words? 

If you work at a call center that can happen easier than you might think. All it takes is for you to say the wrong thing and suddenly your customer is angry and upset. 

The solution is simple: You need to know what to avoid saying and what to say instead! Keep reading to learn about the phrases that upset your customers and alternate customer service phrases that will change the ending. 

1. “I’m going to put you on hold.” 

Eventually, a customer will ask a question you cannot answer on your own. Or maybe they will make a request that you need to ask a manager about. Either way, the outcome is the same: You need to put them on hold before you can get back to them. 

However, if you just say, “I’m going to put you on hold,” customers may get nervous that they will be on hold for a very long time. Based on previous experiences, some customers may worry that their call will even get dropped while they wait. 

To reassure customers, you need to simultaneously explain why you are putting them on hold and that it won’t take very long. For example, “If I can put you on hold for just a few minutes, I should be able to get all of the answers you need.” In this case, the customer will know they won’t be on hold long and that you are focusing on meeting the customer’s needs

2. “We can’t do that.” 

Occasionally, a customer will make a request you just can’t accommodate. If you tell the customer, “We can’t do that,” you’d be telling the truth. However, this phrasing may make customers angry and put them on the defensive. 

What should you say instead? Tell the customer it may not be possible, but you’re going to make absolutely sure before you give up. Even when the matter proves impossible to resolve, customers will be pleased to see you made an effort to look into the matter. 

3. “You’re wrong.” 

Let’s be honest: On any given day, you probably hear plenty of customers say things that are incorrect. However, if you tell the customer, “You’re wrong,” they will probably get defensive and angry. Even if you pair it with an apology (like “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’re wrong”), they are still likely to get offended. 

What should you say instead? The safest thing is to tell the customer you will look into the matter for them. If (most likely when) you find out the customer really is incorrect, you can tell them that you asked your manager, looked everything up, and you couldn’t find out more about what they were talking about. 

This can reassure a customer that you didn’t simply dismiss their perspective or opinion. And who knows? There is a chance the customer really did experience an unprecedented problem with a product or service. By not dismissing their claims right away, you might discover an issue that many other customers have also been encountering, and solving such call center customer service mysteries can be very rewarding. 

4. “That’s just our policy.” 

When customers are already annoyed or upset, it’s usually because they think your company has done something wrong and they want you to make it right. In this case, the last thing you should do is tell the customer that you can’t help them out because “that’s just our policy.” 

Customers hate this because it feels dismissive. If these customers feel you are dismissing their needs, they may stop doing business with your company altogether.  

What should you do instead of blaming the company policy? Once again, the best thing you can do is to reassure the customer that you will look into the issue. Even if you know there is probably little you can do, customers will appreciate that you took the time to explore all potential options instead of dismissing their concerns right away. Working with your customer until you feel they are satisfied can give you a sense of accomplishment.  

call center agent on the phone with difficult customer

5. “Sorry, we’re very busy right now.” 

What if you were trying to reassure a customer and just made things worse? Well, any time that you say “Sorry, we’re very busy right now,” you run that risk. 

Most of the time, you might choose to say this to apologize to a customer for things like long wait times. However, if a caller is already angry, they may take the comment the wrong way. For example, they may think you have been too busy focusing on everyone else’s problems to really take care of their own. 

Instead, if you think you can resolve the matter quickly, use our previous tip to politely put the customer on hold. If you are so busy you can’t quickly resolve the matter, honestly tell the customer how long it will take to resolve things and consider giving them alternate ways to reach you if they can’t wait that long. 

6. “You’ll have to do these steps.” 

Here’s another phrase that may sound helpful but actually annoys customers. Any time you begin a sentence with “You’ll have to,” you run the risk of annoying your customer. 

Why? Simply put, many customers don’t like to be told what to do. So if you are giving them a command they might get offended, even when the instructions are in their best interests. 

What should you do instead? We recommend asking the customer a question first, such as “You may be able to fix this in just a couple of minutes; do you have time to do so right now?” Customers will enjoy that you are asking permission, and they’ll appreciate that taking these steps is the last thing they need to do before getting off the phone. With service like that, you’ll soon be recognized at your job for having satisfied customers.  

Join the Best Call Center Today! 

Now you know which phrases your customers hate to hear. But do you know where to find a call center that values and respects all of your talents? 

Here at Seguros Confie, we are always looking to hire call center customer service specialists. To see how we can help find the job you’ve been dreaming of, all you need to do is apply today