Four Phrases Companies Need to Banish From Their Contact Centers


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It’s no secret that automation in contact centers is growing rapidly. In the next three years, almost 6 in 10 customer interactions could be automated, up from 46% currently. And the stakes are high: 79% of consumers agree that the experience a company provides is just as important as its product or services. Yet too often, those experiences fall flat.

Companies have grown too comfortable with the status quo, defaulting to canned, automated phrases on calls that lead to a negative customer experience (CX). Even seemingly simple things, like the way a pre-recorded phrase is worded, factor into that experience. And even with dissatisfied customers, too many companies have been slow to change their tune.

Any brand that wants to surprise and delight their customers needs a new approach—they need a new way of speaking to their customers that’s more in line with their values. That all starts with making a concerted effort to avoid common automated phrases that undoubtedly lead to frustration.

This isn’t always easy, but with advancements in AI-powered contact center technology, it is possible. Looking ahead, here are the four common phrases that companies should aim to eliminate for good.

“All of our agents are busy assisting other customers. Your call is very important to us.”

We’ve all been on the other end of this canned phrase, which makes you wonder if your call is actually important at all. Feeling like a second choice is particularly harmful in industries like insurance or healthcare: in crisis situations, where issues are pressing and sensitive, customers crave human emotion. And regardless of the scenario, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a question.

This in mind, companies need to show—rather than just tell—customers that they’re important to them. With AI-powered virtual assistants, for instance, brands can ensure that every inquiry is quickly prioritized and responded to, in a natural, understandable way. The result? Customers immediately know that they’re being cared for, and that they are, in fact, important.

“What is your call about? You can say ‘billing’ or ‘reservations.’”

According to a recent survey, 65% of consumers reported feeling comfortable speaking with an AI-powered customer service solution—but only if they could speak normally. Narrow choices like ‘billing’ or ‘reservations’ are discouraging; no one wants to be reduced to monosyllabic words and robotic phrases just to be understood.

What’s more, this phrase forces customers to pigeonhole their inquiries into predetermined classifications, when in reality, many inquiries are unique and multifaceted. To this end, automated systems should instead kick off each interaction with an open-ended “How may I help you today?” or “What would you like to discuss today?” These lead-ins have historically been challenging to automate, but finding an AI-powered solution that can enable this natural introduction will keep customers comfortable and coming back for more.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

Customers shouldn’t have to be worried about asking a complex question—or several in a row—and receiving the above answer. They shouldn’t have to craft scripts in their head before picking up the phone, either. This layer of friction will only start the interaction off on the wrong foot.

Luckily, advancements in technology like machine learning, natural language processing, and automated speech recognition all help ensure that whatever a customer says—be it a full sentence or just key words, slang, an accent, or alphanumeric phrases—will get them a satisfactory answer.

“Please provide your callback number (…again!)”

No one likes to be forgotten. When you’ve already provided your callback number, zip code, or other personal information on the phone, hearing this phrase implies that the company isn’t willing to put in the effort to remember you. As such, it’s justifiable for people to get frustrated when automated systems require you to repeat yourself, again and again, adding more time and friction to the conversation.

One way companies can ensure that AI-powered virtual assistants remember customers’ information is by integrating back-end systems with the virtual assistant platform. This way, the assistant can have access to all pertinent customer information. The end result? A conversation that flows smoothly—and a customer that feels remembered and valued.

As contact centers continue to build automation into their operating models, it’s critical that companies don’t default to the typical phrases we’re all tired of hearing. Interacting with a brand over the phone should be intuitive and comfortable, not repetitive and frustrating—and leaning on AI-powered contact center technologies is critical in helping brands achieve this outcome.

McCall Peltier
McCall Peltier is a Product Marketing Manager at Interactions, where she oversees the development of company messaging and go-to-market efforts for Interactions Intelligent Virtual Assistant, specifically around the intersection of AI and Customer experience. Prior to interactions, McCall worked as a Product Marketing Manager at athenahealth and as a Marketing Program Manager at Dell for the company’s Technology Alliances Program. She has a BS in Finance from Bryant University, and is currently an MBA candidate at the Babson School of Business.


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