By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training


We call them conversation diverters. Killer words are words that make your customers and your potential customers (and oftentimes friends and family) veer away from the real point of your conversation.

So best we eliminate them from our routine and vocabulary. It’s not easy to do. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it and we know everyone isn’t doing it.

In no order of importance, here are five of the top-rated killer words. Remove them from your sales and presentations as well as your customer interactions and watch the scene go smoother.

1.  “No Problem” – The customer is thinking, “When was I a problem?” Believe we can thank the ‘islands’ for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what’s the first thing the waiter says? Right, “No problem.”

Well on the cruise it may be okay; however, back home it should be: The GOLD STANDARD of: “You’re welcome,” “My pleasure,” “Happy to help,” and a host of other ways to let the customer know you’re glad to do that.

“No problem” appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation. Use the GOLD STANDARD: “You’re welcome.”

2. “Our computers are so slow”– Big excuse. Everyone’s computer runs slow every once in a while. When you complain about your computer it’s perceived as though you’re complaining about your company. And perception is reality. Take the time to say, “This might take a bit longer than I’d like it to. Tell me about…” and then ask a benign question that will take time and let the customer talk.

While most people do understand slow computers, they don’t like it. It kills the conversation.

3.  “Calm Down” – Oh man does this one makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show I’ve watched lately when someone is told to “calm down,” the next words are, “Don’t you tell me to calm down.”

There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and come in at the appropriate time with sympathetic and empathetic wording. You telling a customer how to handle their actions isn’t a great idea. Get rid of the expression: “Calm down.”

4.  “It’s not our policy” – Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it’s something we need to deal with daily I’m sure. What is not necessary is blurting it out first and foremost to the customer.

The policy should be rephrased so it starts off in a more positive way. We like to say “rejecting gently.” And rephrasing policies are a good way soften the blow and explain in a more TLC way what will happen.

Next time you find yourself saying “That’s not our (their) policy,” stop! Regroup and reword. Buffer it with, “Let me see what we can do. Normally the policy of the company doesn’t allow last minute changes.” (The request MUST be restated so the customer hears you’re going to go to bat for them.) “However, we can sure tackle this. Let me double check.”

What happens is sometimes when we go back on behalf of the client, it works. And then sometimes it doesn’t. But at least we double checked. And we didn’t just slough it off with, “I’m sorry. It’s not our/their policy.”

5.  “Yes, but…”– Hmm what’s wrong with that? We all say it. Well, what’s wrong with that is the minute we say “yes, but,” the client knows something negative is coming.

If you have ever said, “I love you so much, but…” There’s a condition coming, isn’t there? Here’s one way to change that: “Yes, we can do that. There is, however, a $50 additional fee.” Doesn’t that sound better than, “Yes but…?”


Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.