How to Use Positive Language in Customer Service

‘I cannot help you with that.’

‘I see the issue, let’s see what we can do.’

If you were a customer interacting with a customer service agent, which phrase would have left you feeling better?

It goes without saying anyone would appreciate the second option.

This shows how important it is to use positive language during an interaction.

Positive language is a technique that incorporates using positive words and phrases with a positive attitude in your everyday conversations.

Positive language makes a person feel good after they leave a conversation.

Using positive language in customer service is as important as active listening

They are both integral parts of the communication process.

How to Use Positive Language in Customer Service

Image source: www.callcentrehelper.com

What is positive language in customer service?

Using positive language in customer service means telling your customers what you can do for them instead of what you can’t.

Positive language doesn’t just tell the customer what can be done but also offers options and alternatives and is helpful and encouraging.

It empathizes with the customers and puts their benefits and convenience in front of everything else.

Positive language coupled with active listening can only enhance your company’s customer experience quotient.

Importance of using positive language in customer service

The most obvious benefit of using positive language in customer service is a better and improved relationship with your customers.

If you build the foundation of your interactions through positive language, your customers are more likely to be cooperative rather than argumentative.

Using positive language doesn’t mean that we’ll never say ‘no’ to a customer because we won’t always be able to cater to their demands.

Adopting positive language means that we’ll be changing the way we approach a conversation.

Leading with what we can do for the customers and giving it a positive spin, customers will walk away from the conversation with an enhanced customer experience.

The practice of using positive language in customer service not only enhances customer experience but it can also have a positive effect on you and your colleagues as positivity is contagious.

Since language influences our thoughts, regularly using positive language will also lead to positive thoughts and attitudes.

Positive thoughts and actions are always good for your employees, company and customers.

Positive language when used properly can improve your customer experience while at the same time lower the effort customers have to put into resolving issues.

Positive language vs Negative language

Positive language makes the listener feel good. They feel heard, helped, and justified.

At the same time, negative language makes the listener feel taken for grantedand criticized.

The positive language leaves a conversation open for more interaction, whereas negative language quickly shuts it down.

Positive language:

The choice of the right words and phrases, verbal and written, communicated with a positive attitude so that it makes your customers feel good is positive language.

Positive language isn’t about skirting around negative and difficult topics. It’s using language that reassures, and gives hope and options.

Negative language:

Opposed to that, negative language often leaves the customers feeling criticized or blamed.

When we use negative language to communicate, customers may take our message the wrong way.

Negative language can give the impression that you’re being obstructive instead of supportive and helpful.

A comparison of positive and negative customer service language traits will give you an idea of how damaging negative language is for customer services:

POSITIVE LANGUAGENEGATIVE LANGUAGE
ActivePassive
MotivatingLimiting
ProactiveReactive
Helpful (I and we statements)Critical (You statements)
Focuses on what can be done (Gives options and alternatives)Focuses on what can’t be done(No options or alternatives are provided)

Here’s an example of positive and negative customer service language usage.

Negative usage:

‘That item is not in stock, we won’t get it for another two weeks.’

Positive usage:

That item is currently out of stock but I can pre-order it for you, and it’ll be with you in two weeks. Would you like me to go ahead with that?’

As you can see the first conversation is passive, limiting, and focuses on what can’t be done.

Whereas the second conversation conveys the same message but is proactive, helpful, and focuses on what can be done.

18 best ways to use positive language in customer service

Now that you know how much of an impact positive or negative languages can have on your customers, here are 18 best ways to help you in using positive language.

1. Avoid using negative action words (verbs)

Words like ‘can’t’, ‘don’t’, won’t, unable should be used judiciously. These are dismissive words that frame the interactions in a negative light.

Use words like ‘instead of’, ‘if you’, etc. these are open-ended and have space to provide alternatives for the customers.

2. Focus on what can be done

Focus on what can be done during an interaction with a customer. 

Taking an active role is one of the main things to take note of while adopting the use of positive language.

In the previous example, the service agent is taking an active role by offering to pre-order the item for the customer.

3. Try not to use words or phrases that have negative connotations

Try to use words like ‘definitely’ instead of ‘no problem’. Here the word ‘problem’ has negative connotations so the customer might think that it is a problem.

Since negative connotations are words associated with bad ideas, feelings or emotions, it is always a good idea to not steer the customers towards those thoughts and ideas.

4. Use positive words

Use words like ‘quickly’, ‘fantastic’, ‘wonderful’, ‘great’, etc. to enhance your messages while using positive language in customer service.

Using negative words and phrases like ‘impossible’, ‘no’, ‘there’s nothing we can do’, etc. will highlight the things which you can’t/don’t want to do.

This can be very frustrating for your customers.

5. Speak aloud while typing

Body language and tone of voice also play a big role in any conversation. 

When your interaction is in-person or on the phone you can use your tone or body language to your advantage.

However, it’s hard to do that via emails, social media, or live chats

Without the benefit of body language or tone of voice, your customers might not understand or misconstrue what you’re trying to tell them.

A technique to get past this obstacle is to speak and read aloud what you’re writing in your email, text or live chat.

Hearing yourself while writing can help you predict if your message will be as you intended it for your customers.

6. Don’t ‘guess’ for a customer

Just like in active listening, where you should never interrupt a customer, you should never guess beforehand what a customer might be looking for.

Offering them a product or service which they don’t care for because you ‘jumped the gun’ and started talking before they had finished their request will put you in a bad light.

Always listen actively to the customer. Let them finish talking, clarify and analyze what they just said before you offer any advice.

Remember, ‘put your brain into gear before you set your mouth in motion’

7. Adopt an Attitude That Matches Your Brand’s Tone

Your interactions should be consistent with your brand’s tone or image.

Keeping a uniform language in accordance with your brand values and engaging with your customers, in the same way, will keep them interested in your brand.

For example, if you’re a company that deals with highly technical products and services, your customer service agents shouldn’t come across like they’re service agents for a grocery store chain.

8. Use punctuation and emojis

Proper use of punctuations like exclamation marks and even smiley face emojis in your messages can give off a positive attitude feel for your customers.

How to Use Positive Language in Customer Service

Image source: www.scienceofpeople.com

Studies have shown that use of emoticons and emojis in online communications helps strengthen a message and expresses emotion. – Source

A positive attitude is generally contagious, so it will benefit both your customer agents as well as your customers to have a healthy and positive interaction.

9. Avoid using ‘in trend’ and filler words

Don’t use words that you wouldn’t normally use in your regular everyday conversations.

Use shorter alternatives for words like ‘absolutely’ which are regularly overused.

Use ‘yes’, ‘of course, ‘it can’, etc. After all, that is how you would talk while having a regular conversation.

‘Obviously’,  is another word that’s regularly used out of context. 

If you’re explaining something to a customer and you throw in the word ‘obviously’, they might feel uncomfortable if what you’re saying is not obvious to them.

Other words and phrases like ‘you know’ and ‘it’s like’ are overused sentence fillers that add nothing to your conversations.

Try to keep your conversations focussed and direct by using simple words and phrases without using sentence fillers.

10. Avoid harsh or forceful words and phrases

Even if you mean well, using words and phrases like ‘you have to’, ‘you must’, etc. may come across as commands and orders for your customers.

It’s only human nature for them to feel resentful and reluctant to listen to you.

Try telling them that you’re offering a solution for their problems and not attempting to make them do what you want.

Using words like ‘you can….’, ‘please’, etc. are much more effective. 

Use words that show benefits for the customers like, essential, recommend, generous, etc.

11. Document and reuse successful interactions

Every now and then you’ll be able to explain something perfectly to a customer or quickly de-escalate a volatile situation.

These are instances of perfect customer service. 

Documenting and saving these scenarios into an LMS (learning management system) will make it easy for you and your colleagues to deal with similar situations in the same manner during future interactions.

How to Use Positive Language in Customer Service

12. Rephrase or avoid negative references

Avoid using phrases like ‘this will be difficult’, ‘this step is hard’, etc. 

When your customers hear the words ‘difficult’ or ‘hard’, their attention level will go out the window.

Remember, customers, don’t want to be burdened with ‘difficult’ or ‘hard’ fixes for their issues.

That’s why they called you. To make it easy for themselves.

Swapping ‘interesting’ for ‘difficult’ or ‘hard’ can pique your customers’ interest and make them more engaged with you during your interaction. 

13. Listen

It sounds like such an easy thing to do but, it’s a skill that needs to be practiced.

Active listening and positive language go hand in hand to enhance the customer experience.

You need to be wholly focused on what the customer is saying for you to be able to resolve their issues.

Listening, but listening actively, to your customers will make them feel valued and looked after, enhancing their customer experience with you.

14. Limit your apologies and instead thank the customer

Whenever there’s an issue from your side, apologize, then move on and try to resolve it.

Apologizing over and over again will put you on the defensive and you won’t be an equal during the interaction.

This can take a toll on your confidence level.

Instead of apologizing constantly, thank the customers for their patience.

This will show them that their issue is not a typical one, so they’ll be more accommodating with you.

15. Avoid accusatory language

Most customers don’t like to hear the words ‘you said’. 

It comes across as if your service agent is passing the blame unto the customers.

Even in the context of just recalling what the customers said, ‘you said’ sounds like asking the customers to take accountability for everything they said.

Instead of ‘you said’, try to say ‘we previously spoke about’ and then paraphrase what the customer said.

This helps lessen the accusatory tone that ‘you said’ brings up.

Also, the use of ‘we’ instead of ‘you’ or ‘I’ makes it seem like a collaboration between the customer and the service agent. 

This will seem like the service agent is also invested in resolving the issue at hand with the customer.

16. Give sincere compliments

Complimenting a customer will give them a good feeling.

It’s easy to hand out compliments but make sure they’re genuine and sincere.

They should never be forced or sound robotic.

Simple phrases like, ‘that’s a good option’ or ‘you’ve been extremely patient’ goes a long way in showing the customers that they’re appreciated and valued by you.

17. Provide time-bound solutions

Customers invariably always want to know when their issues will be resolved.

Providing your customers with time-based solutions will give them an idea of when their issues will be resolved.

If you don’t know how long it will take for an issue to be resolved, provide your best estimate for a conservative resolution timeframe.

By doing so, you’ll either be able to provide a resolution ahead of time, provide it just on time or will have enough time to reset the resolution time with the customer.

This will leave the customer feeling that you are working on trying to resolve their issue.

18. Provide options and alternatives

Whenever a customer reaches out to you, whether to know about a product, to buy a product or to raise an issue, give them options to decide what is best for them.

If a customer asks for a product or service which is currently unavailable, you can show them similar alternatives or offer to notify them when that particular product gets back in stock.

This is way better than saying ‘no, that product isn’t available’.

Train your employees on using positive language

Positive language is a very beneficial skill to have in the customer service sector.

The use of positive language is more likely to bring out positive emotions and satisfied customers.

Using positive language is also conducive for getting cooperative customers instead of angry and confrontational ones.

Kapture can help you train your employees on using positive language through our LMS (Learning Management System).

Design custom modules and store best-case customer service scenarios for training and future references.

A team of customer service agents skilled in positive communication can only enhance your company by providing a positive customer experience and helpful resolutions for your customers.

About the Author

Elvis Richard Cormuz
Elvis Richard Cormuz
Elvis hails from Darjeeling and has had vibrant work life experiences – a musician, social worker and freelance translator/transcriber, his hobbies include music, movies and reading.
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