Four Things to Tell Your Customer Instead of, “I’m sorry”

I recently had a baby, and the health insurance claims weren’t matching my plan coverage. In fact, the charges were thousands more than we anticipated. I talked to more than 10 customer service representatives about various claims, and every time the response was the same, “I’m sorry that you’re experiencing that.”

And every time, I thought, “No you’re not.”

All I wanted to hear is, “I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be that you’re trying to care for a newborn and recover, and you’re having to call repeatedly to get these issues resolved. I can absolutely help you and answer your questions.”

What I wanted is empathy, not sympathy. Empathy is understanding and sharing another’s feelings, while sympathy is feelings of pity for another’s misfortune.

By showing our customers empathy, we will deliver a WOW experience and creating lasting relationships.

“I’m sorry” is easy, overused and in-genuine on customer service calls. It’s appropriate if your company is responsible for the issue, but otherwise, demonstrating empathy is always going to give your customer the best experience.

It can be a difficult habit to break, but instead of telling your customer, “I’m sorry,” next time he or she has a problem, try these phrases:

1. “I can only imagine what you’re going through.”

Feel for the customer’s situation.

2. “Oh no!”

Express genuine concern for what the customer is going through. You can use whatever expressions come natural for you. Try, “Oh wow! Oh my goodness. Geez!”

3. “I’ve had that happen to me before.”

Relate to the customer’s problem from a personal experience, this is also a great way to build rapport with your customer. If you don’t have a personal tie to the scenario, try saying, “That’s been happening a lot lately.” Or relate through another customer’s experience.

4. “That’s terrible! I hate to hear that.”

Agree to the gravity of the customer’s situation. Validation can be a powerful relationship builder. You can also try expressions like, “That’s frustrating! That’s horrible. That’s not good

If you want to create long-term customers, start showing empathy and stop saying, “I’m sorry.” What other phrases help you show care to your customers?


Amanda Wray is a Power Coach and Assistant Coach Mentor with the Power Certification Program. She has a master’s degree in professional communication and has experience as both a journalist and a communication director for a national nonprofit organization. Amanda loves traveling, eating out and exploring the outdoors with her family.