In every support conversation there’s a shared goal between business and customer: to resolve the issue.
But often conversations don’t go as planned: something is miscommunicated or you might not know how to handle a particularly tricky escalation.
Equipping yourself with a playbook of tested, effective customer service phrases can help you tackle sticky situations with more clarity and consistency. They create a baseline for cohesive, thoughtful, and personal support, which can bolster more authentic conversations with your customers overall.
9 field-tested customer service phrases
The best customer service comes from a place of understanding, positivity, and sincerity. These phrases will help you capture that tone during every interaction:
- Thank you for reaching out!
- I would be frustrated/upset/confused/annoyed too.
- I don’t know, so let me go find out for you!
- Can you give me a few additional details?
- We can definitely help with this.
- While we may not be able to do that, here’s what we can do.
- We really appreciate your insight/feedback/thoughts.
- Thanks so much for your patience.
- Reach out again any time. We’d love to help. Our hours are...
Important support themes to keep in mind
The support questions you receive can run the gamut from supremely technical and difficult to asks that are as simple as the status of a recent order.
So, while the narrative of your conversations may differ greatly, there are three considerations you should try to cover in every customer support interaction:
- Thank your customers for their feedback.
- Acknowledge the customer’s pain point.
- Invite the customer to reach out again if they ever need anything.
By using these ingredients during every support interaction, you can help ensure a better experience for both you and your customer.
1. Thank you for reaching out!
No matter what the customer’s state of mind is, start every email by thanking them for contacting you. The customer emailing in gives you a chance to learn about a problem you didn’t know existed or to save a sale you might have lost for good. For taking the time to share any feedback at all, they deserve your thanks.
Beyond that, thanking an upset or otherwise frustrated customer tends to defuse the situation and can put them in the right state of mind to be more receptive to what you have to say. Many customers leave because they believe the business does not care about their experience. It’s in your company’s best interest to start working against that from the very start.
A few examples:
❓ A new email asking a simple question:
“Thanks so much for emailing—that’s a great question.”
🕵️ A new email reporting a shipping error or missing item:
“Thanks so much for emailing—I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble.”
2. I would be frustrated/upset/confused/annoyed too.
Empathy helps ease nearly any tense situation. For example, one of your customers might have been expecting one of your products to ship before their wedding and it didn’t arrive. Or, perhaps they’ve run into a bug on your site that makes it impossible for them to update their credit card information. These situations are real and frustrating for a customer, so your response should feel authentic.
"Empathy helps ease nearly any tense situation. It validates a customer's concerns and positions you as their advocate."
While you acknowledge the issue, try putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. The importance of cultivating empathy with your customers and positioning yourself as another human that understands their frustrations cannot be understated. It validates their concerns and positions you as their advocate to help them get this right.
A few examples:
📅 When expressing a concern over a shipping date:
“I totally hear you—not knowing the exact time that UPS is going to arrive with your package is really stressful, especially because you need these items for a special party.”
🤔 If an item is not similar to what they thought they purchased:
“Wow, I’m sorry to hear that the product wasn’t what you expected. I know that can be a total bummer.”
🤕 If something was damaged in transit:
“I’m so sorry to hear that the item arrived damaged. I can definitely see how that would be frustrating. I’ll get a new one shipped to you right away. I’ll send the tracking information as soon as I have it.”
🚫 If you got the order wrong:
“I totally hear you—getting sent the wrong order is extremely frustrating. Because you submitted the request online, we already shipped you a replacement throw pillow in the dark aqua you had originally ordered. We rushed the shipping and it will be on your doorstep on Wednesday.”
3. I don’t know, so let me go find out for you!
When customers contact support, they expect to get a resolution. If you don’t know the answer to their question, don’t leave them hanging.
Though it may be faster to tell a customer that you don’t know the answer, especially if finding out requires some legwork, it’ll leave a customer frustrated and potentially upset. Instead, go the extra mile and let the customer know you’ll work on it, even if that means it’ll take some extra time to get back to them.
Here are some examples:
📲 When tracking information on an order hasn’t updated:
“Let me check in with our shipping team and get some further information for you!”
✨ For inquiries on when an item will come back in stock:
“I love that item too! 😄 I’m not sure when we’ll get more back in. Let me go find that information out for you so we can get you one ASAP!”
4. Can you give me a few additional details?
If you can’t quite get the full picture, ask for clarification. But make sure you’ve hunted down as many details as you can first. This is especially important when working with an asynchronous channel like email, where asking for details will delay a resolution potentially by days. When you’re using tools, even a basic help desk can help surface important details right from the beginning so you don’t even have to ask.
Once you’ve exhausted the options, you can ask for clarification. Clarifying details with the customer means you’ll be able to better assist them and that you’ve acknowledged you want to take the time to fully understand their request. This provides value for the customer in a few different ways:
- It confirms that what you are hearing and assuming about their issue is correct.
- It allows you to put together the full story so you can provide better care.
- It makes the customer feel heard and listened to.
👂 Asking for additional clarification:
- “We can definitely help! In order to get your account pulled up, can you clarify a few details for me?”
- “To help me understand further, can you fill me in on what’s happened with your order so far?”
- “Just to clarify, the package was supposed to arrive last Tuesday?”
5. We can definitely help with this.
You set the tone for the entire conversation. Even if a customer comes in with fire, it’s up to you to keep the interaction positive and productive. Keeping your tone positive can be really subtle.
"You set the tone for every support conversation; it’s up to you to keep the interaction positive and productive."
If the situation is tense you don’t have to come in with pep, but there are small modifications you can make to show the customer you understand their issue and you’re on it.
☹️ Negative language: “I can’t track your shipment until it’s been picked up by the carrier. You’ll have to wait 24 hours and then you can see the estimated delivery date!”
🤩 Positive language: “Your tracking details will update when the carrier picks up your package, which should be within 24 hours. Then we’ll be able to see the estimated delivery date for your order!”
The modifications are subtle here, but the bottom exchange uses proactive language that shows the customer that the support agent is excited, ready, and willing to help. The defining difference is taking the burden off the customer and replacing “things I/you can’t do” with “things we can do together.”
Still, emotion can get lost through text. Emojis can clarify exactly what you mean and give your conversations that added oomph of personality.
- Without emojis: “I’m not seeing an order pop up when I put in that order number. Let’s try this again. Can you take a look and send it over one more time?!”
- With emojis: “I’m not seeing an order pop up when I put in that order number. 🤔 Let’s try this again. 😄 Can you take a look and send it over one more time?”
As important as it is to keep things positive and move the conversation forward, you should always match the tone of the customer. If they’re extremely upset, keep the chat focused on what you can do to make things right. If the customer is happy, you can equally match your response to let them know you’re delighted to chat with them, too. It’s all about balance.
This also applies to your brand and the types of items you sell—it’s just as important to match the voice you have as a business as it is to match the tone of a customer.
6. While we may not be able to do that, here’s what we can do.
Sometimes you can’t honor a customer’s request. The way you deflect their question matters. Instead of serving the customer a cold hard “no,” offer a different solution instead.
For example, I recently placed a clothing order with Everlane during its Black Friday promotion. The jeans I purchased didn’t fit, and I couldn’t find an exchange option on the company’s site, so I reached out to support. Here’s the rep’s response:
Example email from Everlane
Whoa. So, Everlane doesn’t offer direct exchanges, which is what I wanted. But after sharing that information, the agent really impressed me by offering an alternative solution. I expected to walk away from the transaction jean-less, when actually I received a merch credit to do with whatever I want. Way to turn my frown upside down, Everlane!
Here are a different examples of how to turn a no into a yes:
🚚 If they are frustrated about policies for delivery:
“I know it can be tricky to make sure that someone is home when the item is going to be delivered, especially when shipping windows can be so large. We actually have a few ways around that, though. You can read a bit more in our documentation here…”
🎁 If you run out of something they ordered:
“We’re so sorry for the mishap over here—we ran out of [item] and we’re not sure when we’ll get more in stock. But, we just got in some brand new [items] that are really similar (and in my opinion even better!). Can I send you one of those instead?
🐌 If shipping is taking longer than expected:
“While I can’t expedite the process now that the item is in transit, (I wish I could!) I can rush a new item if your order doesn’t get to you within two business days.”
7. We really appreciate your insight/feedback/thoughts
Part of proactive customer service is identifying root issues and solving them before others experience them. When your customers share feedback, it gives you a chance to identify areas of improvement.
That’s powerful because customers who speak up are likely not alone in their experience. And, because your customers essentially QA your shop on a daily basis, their feedback is worth its weight in gold. Any time you receive feedback, good or bad, you should really thank the customer for taking the time to share.
Additionally, you should always proactively ask customers for feedback. It may prompt someone to share something you didn’t even know was an issue.
A few examples:
📝 A response email after explaining feedback on an existing product:
“Thanks for sharing those insights. Your feedback helps us create a better experience for everyone. We want our products to be amazing, and that insight will truly make an impact for future customers!”
🗳 A request for customer feedback:
“We so appreciate your time, and I’d love to know what you think of our shop and of your experience. Here’s how we’d use your feedback...”
"Writing or calling into customer support takes time, and it’s not something that customers should have to do in the first place."
8. Thanks so much for your patience
Writing or calling into customer support takes time, and it’s not something that customers should have to do in the first place. Take a minute to thank them for their patience, especially if they’ve had to wait for a response from you. It shows that you have respect for their time and want to find them a solution as quickly as possible.
9. Reach out again any time. We’d love to help. Our hours are...
There’s something really personal about a good sign-off that wishes customers well and invites them to reach out again should they need anything.
While this might seem like a straightforward and simple thing to do, the pivotal moments in support are defined by the thoughtfulness and sincerity of the gesture—there’s no need to overcomplicate what works. By thanking your customers and inviting them to reach out again if they have trouble you show the customer that:
- You care about what they have to say and their thoughts on your brand and product
- You understand that the issue they had was because of your product and not something that they did
- You will continue to solve the issue if this response doesn’t do the trick
- You value their continued patronage and support
In addition to extending customers the invitation to reach out again, you should add a sincere “Have a great rest of your week!” It’s a small detail, but it shows the customer you care about how their week is going. This feels infinitely more human than something like “Best regards” or having no sign off at all.
It also creates a connection between you and the customer, which can encourage them to come to you if they need anything else—and not just write a bad review elsewhere.
📦 After product or shipping feedback:
“Thanks so much again for letting us know your thoughts on this. Please reach out if anything else comes up, but otherwise have a great rest of your day.”
✅ After you’ve found a solution to their issue:
“I’m glad that helped! Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns, but otherwise enjoy the rest of your week.”
🛒 After an issue using your shopping cart:
“I’m so happy that it’s working as expected now. Let us know if you run into any other trouble, but otherwise have an excellent week.”
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Support is your second chance to make it right
In trying to bring some semblance of order to support, remember to keep the three considerations we covered above in mind: thank your customers when they first reach out to you, acknowledge that the issues they bring up are valid and important, and always invite them to reach back out again if they continue to have trouble.
Doing so will help solidify your relationship with them and show through action and words that you truly and deeply value their patronage. It’ll also serve to defuse any tense situations you might run into and keep them coming back for more.
Come from a place of wanting to authentically do best by the customer—don’t just immediately solve the issue to get the ticket out of your inbox. Just like you can tell if a friend gives an empty apology, your customers can tell, too.
Illustration by Rachel Tunstall