Why You Shouldn't Use These Words With Your Customers

| Mary Shores

How do you win customers’ loyalty and trust?

Make them feel good.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I love that saying. I think it encapsulates the foundation of my communication training and our work at my collection agency, Midstate Collection Solutions, so well.

With Maya Angelou’s words in mind, we ask ourselves every day at MCS,

“How do we make the people we talk to happier at the end of our conversations than they were at the beginning?”

So, how do we?

The first step in our journey to making people happier was to eliminate negative words.

The following words have officially been banned from our office:

No, Not, Can’t, Won’t, However, and Unfortunately.

Because, guess what? When the people you’re speaking to hear these words, they don’t want to listen to you anymore. They enter panic mode, because they’re afraid their needs aren’t going to be met.

Now, when you eliminate negative words from your conversations, you have to replace them with something, right?

Enter “Words That work.”

Words That Work move people up the frequency scale of emotion. It’s positive language that reframes even difficult conversations into positive ones.

When I first got started on this, I literally made a T-chart. On the left side I had the words we were going to stop saying, and on the right side, I had words we were going to start saying.

Examples of words that work are:

The great news is…

What I can do for you is…

I assure you, we are going to find a solution.

I am confident we can work this out.

Here’s an example of how this works:

I was providing communication training to employees at a car dealership when they told me that customers were getting frustrated with the service department when they called for an oil change, because they were being told, “I’m sorry we don’t have any openings until next Tuesday.”

I suggested the employee who answered the phone say something like, “That’s great. I’m so glad that you care about your car. You’re in luck. We have an opening on Tuesday.”

You see, it’s the same information presented in a different way. The latter makes the customer feel important. The former makes it sound like you don’t have time for their oil change.

Final thoughts

Did I mention that eliminating negative words from our conversations increased our revenue by 34% in the first year alone?

Words are powerful, people. Little changes in word selection can literally alter the course of relationships.

Now, I encourage you to ask yourselves, “How are we as an organization making our customers feel?” and “Are we taking steps to make them feel better and cared for?”

Try eliminating negative words, and tell me what differences you see.

To read this article as originally written, visit

Back to Blog