The True Meanings Behind Popular Customer Service Sayings

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Let's Get Real

I've been working in customer service for more years than I care to admit. Every now and then, I am lucky enough to get some type of break from it and only work at a desk in a corner for a while. Then, for reasons unknown (I plead temporary insanity), I somehow end up back in customer service either full-time or part-time in some way.

Since I've had so many years of experience working in customer service and I have also been a customer at many places pretty much my entire life, I think I've got some things figured out. I've been able to interpret the true meanings behind many popular customer service phrases.

Yes, there are customer service phrases we all hear over and over again. How many times do we really stop to appreciate their true meanings? We probably don't even think about it that much. A customer service worker just throws out a compliment or an apology or whatever, and we just take it. It helps keep our society going.

Well, I am here to sit the record straight. I want to uncover the dark, secret meanings behind each and every customer service statement you've grown accustomed to hearing. Let's not hide behind these fake phrases anymore. Let's get real.

Let's Translate Some Common Customer Service Phrases:

Phrase: "Welcome to the House of Rodents! We sell hamster wheels, rodent toys, and so much more. Would you like to hear about our sale on rat chew toys?"

Real Meaning: "Kill me now... if I have to give this speech one more time, I am going to snap."


Phrase: "Good morning. How are you today?"

Real Meaning: "Please don't tell me how you are really feeling today. Let us both pretend life is good and we can all move on."


Phrase: "I am sorry you feel that way."

Real Meaning: "I totally disagree with you, but please stop yelling at me."


Phrase: "Let me get my manager."

Real Meaning: "I totally can't deal with you anymore."


Phrase: "What can I help you find today?"

Real Meaning: "Please don't ask for anything too weird," or, if working on commission, "Please ask for something really expensive."


Phrase: "Please give me more details."

Real Meaning: "I don't understand one thing you've just said to me."


Phrase: "Wow, really? That is so interesting."

Real Meaning: "You are the ninth person who's said that today. I am so tired of faking an interest in this unoriginal comment."


Phrase: "Have you been on our website yet?"

Real Meaning: "What would take me 10 minutes to explain is easily found on our site."


Phrase: "Did you read the instructions that came with the product?"

Real Meaning: "Clearly you did not read the instructions. What is wrong with you?"


Phrase: "You got our product to do what?"

Real Meaning: "Are you kidding me? Let me put this on speaker phone..."


Phrase: "Could you please hold a moment?"

Real Meaning: "You don't have any choice. I am putting you on hold."


Phrase: "Where did you hear about this offer?"

Real Meaning: "I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'll bet you're right."


Phrase: "Can you fax or email me proof of that?"

Real Meaning: "I have no idea what you've talking about, but I think you are making stuff up."


Phrase: "Sure you can contact our corporate office. I'll give you the number."

Real Meaning: "Good luck with that. Corporate doesn't care about you or me."


Phrase: "We no longer carry that item."

Real Meaning: "We haven't sold that in years. Welcome to this century."


Phrase: "We don't have that in stock right now."

Real Meaning: "I just can't find it and I don't have time to dig through the nightmare that is our stockroom."


Phrase: "You are speaking to the manager."

Real Meaning: "Don't push me. You aren't going to get far."


Phrase: "Sure, you can talk to the district manager. I'll give you her contact information."

Real Meaning: "We don't even know the district manager; we are not even sure she exists. Let us know how it turns out."


Phrase: "Can I interest you in adding a scarf to your purchase? How about a pair of gloves that would match that coat? Were you interested in receiving coupons? May I take these bags out to the car for you?"

Real Meaning: "I think you are a Secret Shopper and I am trying to get a perfect score."


Phrase: "Would you like to put this on your store card today?"

Real Meaning: "I get a bonus everytime you open an account with us."


Phrase: "Please let me transfer your call."

Real Meaning: "I simply can't take it anymore. Let's see if Betty can tolerate you."


Phrase: "For further clarification, please contact Bill at 999-999-9999."

Real Meaning: "You are asking too many questions and Bill owes me one."


Phrase: "So how is the weather there today?"

Real Meaning: "I can't get my computer to work, but I am pretending everything is OK and killing some time with small talk."


Phrase: "I am having technical difficulties."

Real Meaning: "My computer is totally junk and you'll be lucky if I can complete this transaction."


Phrase: "Please let me know if you have any further questions."

Real Meaning: "Please don't have any further questions. I have 10 more customers that need assistance right now."

Copyright ©2012 Jeannieinabottle

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Comments 19 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I have to deal with disgruntled parents every day so I hear what you say. When I ring for a Customer Service person now, I at least have some idea of what they have to cope with every day so I keep it polite (if I'm complaining I know it's not their fault!) and as short as possible. I can't be doing with 'and how are you today Mrs Hogg...' I know they're not interested, I feel like saying 'cut the crap, what'ye want' but I just say 'Fine' and keep the conversation moving along. I could not do your job - this was an honest, fun hub.


spartucusjones profile image

spartucusjones 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

Funny and insightful hub! It is so very true. I have a lot of customer service experience (in person & online), but I been fortunate not to work at a call center. I'm not sure I would have the patience to deal with people over the phone.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Jools99 - I can imagine disgruntled parents must be one of the worst groups of people to deal with on the phone. You have my sympathy! Yeah, I hate the whole, "How are you today?" garbage, too. Most of the time I don't bother asking unless the caller says it first. Even then, half the time they don't give me the opportunity to answer. No one really cares about that stuff. :-)

Thanks for reading my hub!

spartucusjones - Working with people over the phone is better sometimes than in person. I tend to show my emotions easily on my face and I like being able to glare at the phone instead of the customer. I am sure my job has been spared sometimes because of it.

Thanks for the comment!


jblais1122@aol profile image

jblais1122@aol 4 years ago from Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Great, and How True!. I work in a dispatch position as an outbound operator. There are many situations where what you say can be translated so much differently to what you are thinking. People say some words without thinking. For some reason people answer with Yes to any question. In many situations I must ask, "Are you ok there? Do you need the Police?" Too often I get "Yes." So...? I have to ask, "Yes you are ok, or Yes you need the police?" Many times per day.

Anyway great hub!


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

Ah, now I understand ... thanks for the heads up, Jeannie :)


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

jblais1122@aol - I know I could not have that kind of job. I would easily freak out if a person did need the police. I know what you mean about not knowing if the person is answering "yes" to a particular question. Thanks for sharing!

Angie - I am happy to help. :-) Thanks for dropping by my hub!


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Having worked in retail, I can certainly relate to this Hub. Up!


savingkathy profile image

savingkathy 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I loved this hub! Having worked in customer service, I'd have to agree with pretty much everything you've written. Voted up and shared :)


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you both, fellow customer service survivors. Thanks for checking out my hub and thanks for the votes!


charmike4 profile image

charmike4 4 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

Interesting concept jeannieinabottle and quite fun to read! What's interesting is that a lot of these statements are covered in a range of training programs that can help the customer service rep make the change from an annoying customer comment or the normal patter into something that is meanigful for the consultant and the customer (switch selling, approach techniques, hanging out etc etc). Thanks for making an interesting read of 'what not to do'. Shared & voted up. Cheers Michael


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much for sharing this hub and the vote up! You can probably tell I've been doing customer service for way too long. I am happy you enjoyed the hub!


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

Customers are taught spiels and key phrases when handling customers. But I must agree, many just go through the motions of saying what they are required but feel totally different from what they are saying. this brings lots of memoriews - both good and bad. But I did enjoy reading the hub. :)


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

It is true... there are so many phrases that work well in customer service, but they usually are just used to suger coat what is actually meant. Thanks for visiting my hub and thanks for the comment!


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Inner meanings and true insights. Enjoyed!!!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much. I am glad you enjoyed it!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

This is WAY too funny, Jeannie.....you're hurting my abs again.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Sorry about hurting your abs! I am happy you enjoyed the hub so much. :-)


temptor94 profile image

temptor94 14 months ago from India

Wonderful and very funny list! :) ROFL!!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 14 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks so much! I am glad you enjoyed it, temptor94.

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