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Our guide to Customer service ‘robot speak’. What winds you up most?

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
May 26, 2015

undefined Robin Bowman

Something customers hate more than anything is the patronising way so many companies speak to them these days.

It can often seem like the person on the other end of the line is just running through a checklist of “appropriate phrases.”  

Everything has to be upbeat and positive in a formulaic way.

One person on Twitter summed it up perfectly as, “impersonal, predictable and robotic.”

Anything but having a straightforward, polite dialogue with a real human being.


We're left feeling like we're talking to some kind of customer service C-3PO.

Here are seven things about customer service that really wind us up – let us know what gets to you most.

1  For help, press 18!  Endless multi-choice options at the start of a phone call.  

This is always to “help us direct your call to the right place today” (rather than yesterday!) but it never does.  It’s just a way of stalling you so you have to wait slightly less time in the queue to speak to a real person.

2  We’re experiencing exceptional call volume at the moment.

There are many companies out there with this as a default message. It rarely is exceptional, just that they have too few staff. And this message usually comes after….

3  Your call is important to us.

If it was, I wouldn’t have had to go through a multiple-choice exam to begin with or listen to the terrible hold music before I can reach a human being.

4  Thanks for calling

They say this after trying for a full five minutes to divert you to their website to find the answer to your query.

The truth is most companies would rather you communicated in any other way that on the phone because that ties up their staff and costs them more. 

Besides, why are they saying ‘thanks for calling’ when they don’t yet even know why I’m calling? 

Thank me when we’ve finished the call.

5 Is there anything else I can help you with today?

This is especially infuriating when you have spent 20 minutes bitterly complaining and getting increasingly frustrated, while receiving nothing more than off-pat responses.  

It’s the last thing you want to be asked in these circumstances and clearly shows there’s a robot at the other end.

6  Have a nice day / evening / rest of the day

Same as above. Almost always said after an annoying complaint. Again, pure robot speak.

7  For quality and assurance purposes we sometimes record calls.

What does that mean? Quality purposes? 

‘Assurance’ is even more of a euphemism.  It means: we know some of you will phone back and lie about what we said and we want to prove we didn’t say it.  


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