Uncovering powerful secrets behind phrases - Part 2

12 October 2020 Myra Knoesen

Numerous client confronting employees do not know when they say a word or utilise a tone that insults clients.

Lynette Gil, Associate Digital Content Editor of, recently wrote an article in which she shared the nine negative phrases to avoid with clients (and what to say instead).

Say this, not that

The phrases below, according to Gil, were originally meant for customer service representatives, but they apply to anyone, really.

  1. Phrase number one: Don't say: “let me look into that.” Gil believes this is too vague, and makes the customer feel put off. Instead, provide a clear plan of action, and when the customer can expect a solution. What to say instead: “I’m going to do some more research. I will call you back with a solution by 3pm today.”
  2. Phrase number two: Don’t say: “unfortunately, no…” Gil believes there is always a better way to say no, besides just saying no. When people hear “no”, they instantly tune you out. What to say instead: “Although we cannot provide that, here’s a better/simpler option.”
  3. Phrase number three: Don’t say: “there’s nothing I can do.” Gil believes there is always something you can do, even if it is offering a listening and understanding ear. What to say instead: “I understand your frustration. What can I do to help?”
  4. Phrase number four: Don’t say: “let me correct you on that.” Gil believes this statement makes you sound like you are on the defence, which automatically sets you up to be the bad guy. What to say instead: “I must not have explained that correctly, my fault!”
  5. Phrase number five: Don’t say: “there must’ve been a miscommunication.” Gil believes this is a passive aggressive way of placing the blame back on the customer. It will escalate the situation, and does nothing for problem solving. What to say instead: “I totally misunderstood your request. Let me fix it!”
  6. Phrase number six: Don’t say: “I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry.” Gil believes if you made an honest mistake apologise. But don’t use this as a filler for effective communication. Instead, work towards a solution. What to say instead: “I’m sorry you had to experience this, but don’t worry, we’ll make it right.
  7. Phrase number seven: Don’t say: “I have another call coming in, can you hang on?” Gil said that this should be avoided whenever possible, as it makes the customer feel like his or her problem doesn’t matter. What to say instead: “If you don’t mind, I’m going to put you on hold while I figure out a solution.”
  8. Phrase number eight: Don’t say: “I don’t have any record of your purchase/account.” Gil believes this statement will easily make the situation ten times worse. What to say instead: “Did you order under a different name/address/phone number? While I look for your account, how can I help you today?
  9. Phrase number nine: Don’t say: “that’s not something I can do.” Gil advises if a solution is outside your scope of involvement; quickly send the call to a superior. What to say instead: “I can’t make that call, but I know my supervisor will be happy to help. Let me transfer you right now.”

Gil says when dealing with disgruntled clients remember it is not a personal attack. They are voicing their furstrations with the company, not you. Instead focus on tackling the issue.

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Quick Polls


How to give affordable and appropriate financial advice to the low income market segment. There is little room on a R50 pm policy for advisers to be remunerated for the time it would it would take to educate & fulfil admin function. What is the solution?


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[b] Implement industry standards for non-advice information
[c] Introduce an insurer-funded pro-bono advice network to low income earners
[d] Reinforce the Policyholder Protection Rules
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