Bad language: phrases to avoid using with your staffing firm’s clients

They are simple phrases, ones you may not think twice about using. But the words you use with your clients play a big part in how your staffing firm and its employees are perceived in the marketplace.


Most businesses take steps to ensure their employees are communicating with clients in a timely and professional manner. But that doesn’t mean your employees aren’t unintentionally using words and phrases that can create the perception that your firm is unprofessional, inexperienced or insincere.


Here are everyday phrases that could be undermining your credibility and should be avoided in client communications.


The noncommittal: I’ll try / I think / Hopefully


You don’t want to make false promises to your clients. But using weak, noncommittal phrases such as “I’ll try” and “I think” is not the answer. The phrases are full of uncertainty, evoking the opposite of confidence from your clients. Your clients don’t want to hear that you “think” you can provide a solution or that someone is “trying” to work through their concerns. Instead, simply tell the client or prospect what you will do to meet their needs and how you plan to address issues if they do arise.


The subtly negative: No problem / That’s OK


Your clients aren’t an inconvenience. Yet seemingly innocent phrases such as “no problem” can have the unintentional effect of making people feel like one.

If a client calls with a last-minute staffing request or has a question about an invoice, for example, you might respond with “no problem” to indicate that you are happy to help. But using the word “problem” suggests that the person’s request might have been an annoyance. Answering with “my pleasure,” and even thanking clients for their business after resolving an issue, will help people remember interactions with your firm in a more positive light.


The know-it-all: You should / You need to / Like I said


Nobody likes a know-it-all. Sure, you want companies to partner with your staffing firm because they respect your expertise and the recommendations you can provide. Yet being the expert can easily become condescending when you tell the client, “You should organize your contract staffing budget this way,” or “You need to hire our firm to work on your resource planning.” This language could also offend clients or prospects by implying they haven’t considered some solutions or suggestions before, when there may have been other challenges in play. As an alternative, phrase your recommendations with if-then statements: If you do X … then you can improve Y. Another option is to say, “We recommend doing X, Y and/or Z in order to achieve your desired outcome.”


Every time your employees send an email, make a client phone call or meet with a client or prospects, they are communicating on behalf of your firm. Encouraging employees to be more conscious of the language they use can go a long way in building your agency’s reputation for professionalism.