Negative Customer Service Buzzwords

Jeff McLanahan
Contributing Writer

We’ve all heard them.  Those annoying phrases/buzzwords that repeatedly get used during meetings.  These phrases have become so commonplace that if you do an internet search for “annoying phrases or buzzwords” you will find numerous lists that have been created.

With the start of a new year, I would like to suggest that we work to reduce (or if possible, eliminate) as many of these buzzwords/phrases from our meetings as possible.

While I am sure that everyone has their own ideas on which ones should be eliminated, here are a few from the various lists I reviewed, to get us started.

“It is what it is.”  This phrase is seemingly used when nothing else can be thought of to say on a topic.  It may leave our team members with the impression that their input does not count in the final decision.

“Circle back.”  I hear this phrase used when a person says something that the discussion leader does not want to deal with.  “Let’s circle back to that later” is a way of leaving the illusion that the topic will be discussed when all the really important topics have been talked about.  Let’s not leave any of our team members feeling this way.

“I know this is a bit of an eye chart.”  I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard this one.  My internal response has always been, “If you know it is an eye chart, why didn’t you change it?”  When presenting to the team, stop using information that cannot be read by the group.

“At the end of the day.”  This phrase is used to signify where we want to ultimately end up with on a particular project.  Can’t we just state where we want to end up!

“Transparency.”  When people speak of being more transparent, they are inadvertently harming their own credibility.  If you now want to be more transparent, or if you are asking others to be more transparent then what was happening before?

“Take ownership.”  For people that come to work everyday with the goal of doing their best and having an impact on the business, this phrase stings.  These team members believe they have taken ownership in the tasks and duties within their control so using this as a generic statement may be a big mistake.

“Get your ducks in a row.”  When team members hear this phrase, they often see it as either a jab at their preparedness or their organizational thought process.  In either case, a way to minimize this is to discuss issues directly and include specific examples of what is expected.

The list of annoying phrases and buzzwords goes on and on.  Others include: Think outside the box, Synergy, Proactive, Let’s talk about this offline, Drill down, Pain point, Paradigm, Going forward, Burning platform and Low hanging fruit.

Let’s resolve this year to make and post a list of these in our meeting rooms and point out when they are used and overused.  Hopefully we can get everyone to “Drink the Kool-Aid” and “Share Best Practices” on how we can “Move the Needle” in eliminating them!

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