By Nancy Friedman, Speaker, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service

There is a huge difference between a problem and an inconvenience. You know it, I know it and your customers know it.

Listen to what HAPPENED TO ME the other day. We ordered a new copy machine at Telephone Doctor.

Gentleman brings the machine into the office. As he’s installing the machine, one of the ladies sees the screen has a rather large crack on it and tells the installer. The young man who wheeled in the machine came looking for me to tell me and proudly exclaims, “Mrs. Friedman, we have a problem.”

Because I am a problem solver I asked, “What is it?”

“Well,” he says, “the screen on the copier machine is cracked.”

I say, “Can it be fixed?” He says, “yes ma’am.”

“Well, then,” I tell him, “we don’t have a problem, we have a minor inconvenience.” He thought about that and then smiled.

“When can it be fixed?” I ask. “Oh, today for sure,” he says.

Then I assured him, “We don’t even have an inconvenience.”

Why even use the word ‘problem?’ Why alert the customer to that? If you really need to let them know something isn’t right. Use the word “inconvenience” and then to really simplify it, slice it into ‘minor inconvenience’ or ‘major inconvenience.’

Customers are able to handle ‘inconveniences.’ Minor or major. They do not like problems. So avoid that word.

When you have a major inconvenience, be sure you have a major answer.

Remember Sales 101: When you’re part of the problem, you need to be part of the solution.

Replace the word ‘problem’ with ‘inconvenience.’ Watch what happens – the entire situation goes down much better.

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Nancy Friedman is a featured keynote customer service speaker covering communications skills and showing you how to capture & navigate the call.

Want Nancy to speak at your meeting? Call for a speaking demo & full information packet of Nancy – 314.291.1012, visit or email

Nancy is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and hundreds of other radio and TV shows.

The author of eight books on sales and customer service, Nancy is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs.

For a complimentary copy of Nancy’s eBook, Hidden Gems of Customer Service, please click here.