The Best Power Words and Phrases to Use in Customer Service


We investigate the most common power words and phrases, while also drawing attention to those which help to add value to contact centre conversations.

What Are Power Words?

Power words are words that we use in conversations to provoke a certain feeling from the person that we are talking to.

Power words are words that we use in conversations to provoke a certain feeling from the person that we are talking to.

These words are often used by people who work in fields such as marketing and copywriting, as many can be used as tools for persuasion. This also means that they can be good to use in customer service, to positively influence customer emotions.

So let’s take a look at some common examples of power words before focusing on those which can be really beneficial to use in the contact centre.

The 100 Most Common Power Words

Since 2015, in conjunction with our sister publication Presentation Magazine, we have been scanning popular news stories, articles and works of literature.

In doing so, we have scanned over 15 million words to determine their popularity by counting the frequency in which they are used.

So, let’s take a closer look at the top ten power words according to this list, and share an example of how advisors can embed them into their contact centre interactions.

Using the Top 10 Power Words in the Contact Centre

Here are the top ten power words, alongside an explanation of why they can be used to great effect in customer service conversations and a contact centre specific  example.

1. Now

It is great to a reassure the customer of their query’s importance to your business and, to do this, it is good to provide them with a sense of immediacy. “Now” is a great power word to help you do so.

Power phrase example – “What I’m now doing to help you is…”

2. Great

We’ve all written an email in which we have to request something of somebody, but worry that we sound a little too demanding. In customer service writing, this feeling is multiplied.

So, using “great” in a sentence like the example below can help to alleviate any concerns that you might have.

Power phrase example – “It would be a great help if you could…”

3. Always

We want customers to feel confident in our ability to solve to solve their problem, so sometimes it is great to give them a guarantee, and “always” is the ideal power word for doing so.

Power phrase example – “What we can always do for you is…”

4. Really

Sometimes, we want to emphasize one key point and the power word “really” is great for doing this.

For instance, if you have to present two key options to a customer but believe that one is much better for them than the other, this power word can be a useful tool – if used just like in the example below.

Power phrase example – “The option that I think is really great is…”

5. Best

When a customer chooses to do business with us, we want to take away any hesitations that they may have. Using the word “best” helps to give the customer a little comfort that they are on the recommended plan/scheme.

Power phrase example – “Given your requirements, this is the best plan for you…”

6. Change

This can be a great word to use with an upset customer, after you’ve let them vent and shown empathy, because you are highlighting to them that you are immediately going to do something to remove the source of frustration.

Power phrase example – “Let’s make a change! As I solution, I suggest…”

7. Understand

We all recognize the importance of showing empathy in the contact centre and saying “I understand” can really help to lift a weight off the customer’s back.

It is particularly great if we draw on our own experiences beforehand, just like in the example below, to single ourselves out from the wider company and offer a more personalized experience.

Power phrase example – “I have experienced a similar problem recently, so I understand what you are saying.”

8. Real

If you are listing a number of key features, options or benefits of a product, using the word “real” before introducing a key item on the list, like in the example below, can really focus the customer’s attention on this one specific point.

Power phrase example – “The real benefit of this option is…”

9. Free

Everyone likes to get something for free. The word “free” therefore helps to spike our interest, as it signals that we, as the customer, might soon be offered something special.

Power phrase example – “What we do offer, as a free addition, is…”

10. Strong

“Strong” is a particularly good power word to use when describing something that the customer has done. It both helps to reassure the customer and emphasize that they have the “power” or control when it comes the final decision making.

Power phrase example – “I think that you’ve made a very strong choice.”

However, just because these are the most common power words, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t others that will work well in the contact centre space.

Two key examples of other power words that are well suited to the contact centre space include “something” and “willing”, as we discuss below.

Say “Something” Not “Anything”

Research from linguists who work at Loughborough University found that, particularly in the medical or retail fields, when someone asks: ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ that sounds more negative than saying: ‘Is there something else that I can help you with?’

A photo of someone gesturing at something invisible

When someone asks: ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ that sounds more negative than saying: ‘Is there something else that I can help you with?’

As Sandra Thompson, founder of Exceed All Expectations, says: “Not only does ‘something’ sound more positive, asking the question: ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ when you haven’t solved the original query, that’s not going to go down too well.”

So, if you have to ask this question, it is better to say: ‘Is there something else that I could help you with?’, as that will more likely lead to a more positive outcome.

The Word “Willing” Allows the Customer to Feel in Control

As a contact centre, we want to be speaking with calm customers who are fully in control of their situation. The power word “willing” can be a great tool to use to help them to get into this frame of mind.

Sandra adds: “This is all to do with making the customer perceive that you are putting the control with them in making their decision.”

“So instead of saying: ‘Do you think you could…?’, it’s better to say: ‘If you’re willing…?’, as that changes the emphasis and people respond far more positively.”

3 Tips to Best Use Power Words in the Contact Centre

We’ve introduced the 100 most popular power words, highlighted how they can be used in customer service and shared a couple of contact centre specific examples. But we are not quite done yet!

Before you start adding these power words and phrases into your scripts or asking advisors to try them out for themselves, please think about the following three things.

1. Certain Power Words May Not Be Appropriate in a Formal Context

Power words are great to emphasize our points in a friendly, informal setting. But when things get serious, it can be better to forget about power words and get straight to the point.

When it comes to bad news, customers want every guarantee that you’re taking the matter seriously, so a formal tone is more appropriate.

As Sandra says: “Generally customers prefer us to use informal language, as opposed to formal language, when we are talking to them. But if you’ve got a bit of bad news, being informal does not work.”

“When it comes to bad news, customers want every guarantee that you’re taking the matter seriously, so a formal tone is more appropriate.”

In these situations, we don’t want advisors to be thinking; “What power word should I add in?” We want the team to be fully focused on the customer.

2. Consider Which Power Words Echo Your Values

Our approach to customer service will likely depend very much on the values of our brand and therefore our customers. This should also be reflected in our use of power words and phrases.

Brands will often have series of words and phrases that their advisors are highly likely to use, in respect to their sector and values.

Sandra says: “Brands will often have series of words and phrases that their advisors are highly likely to use, in respect to their sector and values.”

“As long as they are simple, understandable terms I think it’s only right that they are woven into all forms of communication, so we are providing the consistency that our customers expect.”

So, it’s great to be consistent with our use of power words and phrases, but – in terms of using brand-specific language – just beware of using cultural jargon, as it has the potential to confuse customers.

3. Use Power Words to Back Up Bad News

A thumbnail photo of Sandra Thompson

Sandra Thompson

While we should not use power words when delivering bad news, they can be very useful in terms of turning a negative situation around.

Sandra adds: “If you have bad news, you should give it up front and follow that up with the good news, as this makes the conversation far more palatable for the customer.”

“To do otherwise would work against the laws of behavioural science, which suggest that the peak state of customer emotion should be a good feeling that people are left with.”

To find out more about the science behind customer emotions, read our article: 7 Steps to Evoke the Emotions You Want From Your Customers

In Summary

Power words are great to use in all forms of conversation to evoke certain feelings from the people that we speak to. This also means that they hold great significance in the contact centre.

With this in mind, it can be good practice to sprinkle power words into contact centre scripts, as a trial first of all to assess their impact, or to coach advisors to use them effectively.

However, before we consider doing either of these things, we should first think about when it is appropriate to use power words and which words and phrases best echo our brand values.

For more tips and strategies to better use of language in the contact centre, read our articles:

Published On: 24th Jul 2019 - Last modified: 27th Oct 2020
Read more about - Skills, , , ,

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