What Is Customer Service Language, and Why Does It Matter?


When dealing with customers, the language you use is almost as important as the service you provide. In fact, paying attention to the customer service language you use, may just be what sets your apart from your competitors. 

Since these interactions usually happen when the customer has a problem and is likely to be frustrated or angry, it is not merely a matter of using positive customer service language. Creating experiences that center empathy and creative problem solving are what will really set your brand apart. 

Where companies fall short, 80% of customers will switch brands after just one bad interaction. When companies manage to use empathetic and engaging customer service language, they can see a real difference in their bottom line. 


In fact, according to the Zendesk CX Trends Report:

75% of customers are willing to spend more to buy from businesses that give them a good customer experience.

Understanding how the brain works

The internet is teeming with advice on the best customer service language to adopt. And it all boils down to one thing: understanding how the human brain is wired. For instance, we process verb firsts, which is why "Keep clear" works better than "Don't touch", with toddlers and full-grown adults alike. Empathy is another key thing: it is the main enabler of our species' evolution because it allows us to learn by imitation, and is a major aspect of how we function as a group.

"We humans, are so sensitive to positive words that they can physiologically alter our brains."

As explained by researchers Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman in their book Words Can Change Your Brain

And while we enjoy being talked to in a friendly, relaxed manner, the second we're denied something, the casualness is perceived as rude. According to a Kapture, 65% of online customers prefer a casual tone to a formal one, but 78% resent it when the agent denies their request.

Customer service is a human interaction

Ultimately, people just want to feel heard and understood. So to provide the best customer experience, the best practices are:

  • Using positive verbs (instead of negative ones)
  • Empathizing genuinely with a customer’s frustration goes a long way
  • Saying you’re “happy to help” changes the way they experience the interaction
  • Maintaining the right distance will make you seem both professional and friendly

Learn more about the most important soft skills for CS teams.

This doesn’t mean that customer service agents should tiptoe around a customer’s emotions; it just means that customer service language is at its best when it feels human.

Practicing positive customer service language

Your customer support team is your biggest asset. They are the empathetic humans you rely on to provide excellent customer service, so make sure they’re up-to-date on  your brand’s tone of voice and provide them with template responses to common problems that use best practices for customer service language.

Better yet, instead of letting your team get bogged down by answering the same repetitive inquiries over and over (you don’t need much of a human touch to answer questions about a delivery date or how to change a phone number a hundred times a day), review your most common inquiries and determine where a virtual agent could be helpful in answering your customers’ FAQs.

While a virtual agent can’t replace the empathy and creativity of your human agents, the capabilities of CX automation have drastically increased with the dawn of generative AI – the technology that powers ChatGPT. By connecting with your existing knowledge base, virtual agents that utilize generative AI can instantly and seamlessly mimic your brand tone of voice, regional language variations, and more. 

Check out our Customer Support Academy module on customer service automation 101.

Automating your more repetitive tasks in this way will also allow your human agents to focus on more challenging cases, and they can give the empathetic customer support they were hired to provide.

Check out the latest best practices in customer support