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What NEVER to Say to Calling Customers

Keeping calm and staying polite while tending to callers that may be rude or just plain annoying is easier said than done. While you may be tempted to put a caller in their place, it’s better to remain professional and take the high road. 

The last thing you want is for a caller, or potential customer, to wonder why they bothered contacting your business in the first place. You don’t want to upset the caller further and risk losing a sale or a retainer client. Remember that one bad review can quickly snowball and result in losing revenue.

To that end, let’s look at 6 phrases you should avoid when dealing with a caller:

“I don’t know.”

It simply sounds unprofessional and unhelpful. Rather say “Let me quickly look into that for you”, and then ask a colleague for assistance. If you really cannot help, consider taking their contact details and inform them that you will be in touch as soon as you know more (and then make an effort to do just that).

“Visit our website.”

In general, it’s always a great idea to drive traffic to your website, but not to callers. A caller is already one of the best sales leads you can get, so don’t take a step back and risk losing a sale by lazily relying on your website. Whatever questions your caller has, try to answer them right there over the phone.

“It’s not our fault.”

In many scenarios of dealing with disgruntled callers your business will not be to blame even if the caller insists it is. While tempted to correct them, this will at best embarrass them and at worse enrage them, neither leading to a happy ending. Instead try to divert focus to how you can help solve the problem. Say “We’re so sorry for the inconvenience…” and proceed to offer solutions to appease the caller while salvaging a sale and relationship.

“That’s not how we do things.”

Even if a caller is asking you to do things that is against company guidelines or processes, rather phrase a denial in a more helpful way, something like “To offer the best service / products possible, we always…”. 

“Calm down.”

Nobody likes to be told to calm down, if anything, hearing this only aggravates people leading to a conflict-fuelled call.


Starting a sentence with the word “listen” or “listen here”, especially to interrupt a non-stop ranting caller, is how all arguments officially escalate. It’s aggressive, and no caller will enjoy being spoken to like a naughty child nor will they like being told what to do. 

“At Real Receptionist, our call operators are thoroughly trained to always be polite, even under trying circumstances,” says Chenara Coetzee, General Manager at Real Receptionist, “Our goals are to offer the best customer care possible to each caller, as well as to mitigate any loss of sales.”

There’s no business without customers, so maintaining optimal customer care guidelines is a must for every company. Teach your team to avoid all customer care no-no’s. For more receptionist and communication tips, stop by the Real Receptionist blog


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