10 Words to Never Use When Replying to Your Clients in Emails


July 21, 2022

10 Words to Avoid when replying to your clients in emails

There are some words you should never use when replying to your clients in emails — but they’re probably not the words you’re thinking of. 

Sure, bad language and technical jargon that goes over everyone’s heads are always a no-go, but what about other more common words? 

It turns out that many of the words used every day in emails to clients can make it harder for you to build good relationships, foster confidence in your expertise, and solve problems quickly and efficiently. 

That matters because the better your writing to clients is, the better your productivity and sales are going to be. 

Here’s a look at 10 words to never use when replying to clients and what you can say instead. 

Why the Words You Use with Clients Matter

When you write an email to a client, you aren’t just communicating the words you type on the screen. 

Certain terms and phrasing is always open to interpretation, and that interpretation isn’t always positive. 

While it’s hard to make a hard and fast rule that you should never use a particular word in an email to a client, it is helpful to have some guidelines about what to do and what not to do. 

In most cases, a business professional replying to a client wants to subtly communicate three things: 

  • You are personable and care about each and every one of your clients. 
  • You are knowledgeable about your industry and can be trusted as an expert. 
  • You are focused on solving challenges and don’t blame clients for problems. 

Luckily, there are specific words you can focus on eliminating from your emails that will help you sound more personable, knowledgeable and free of judgement. 

Words to Never Use When Replying to Clients 

Here are 10 terms you’ll want to avoid in your email replies to clients, plus some helpful examples of what you could say instead: 

1. Our / We 

Of all the words to start a sentence, “our” and “we” are probably two of the most common in the whole English language. So why would you want to avoid these words in emails to clients? 

Unfortunately, the terms “our” or “we” in business emails can come across as very impersonal. These terms create distance between you and your client in circumstances where you most likely want to close that distance. 

Luckily, you can usually substitute the words “my” and “I” to instantly increase the personability of your emails. 

Consider this example: 

“I’m sending you a patch to fix the problem.” sounds infinitely more personable than “Our company has released a patch to fix the problem.” 

2. Client / Customer  

An email to a client or customer should probably avoid using the words “client” or “customer.” That may sound like silly advice, but there’s a logical reason for such a guideline. 

Just as “I” and “my” is more personable than “we” or “our,” using a client’s name is more personable than talking about a generalized unknown client. 

Individual email replies go to specific clients, so it makes sense to personalize your response for that particular client. They likely don’t care about the experience of other clients as much as they do about their own individual issues. 

Consider this example: 

There’s no question that “Hello Thomas, thank you for your question.” is much more personable than “Dear valued client, thank you for your question.” 

3. Think 

Thinking is an incredibly important skill in business, but it’s not necessarily helpful to your business communications to use the term “think” too often. 

Often, the word think can imply weakness and uncertainty — “I think…” or “Do you think…” don’t inspire as much as confidence as more declarative statements. 

Of course, you clients are paying for you to think about their questions and concerns. However, they probably prefer to hear from you after you’re sure of an answer. 

Consider this example: 

“I think our product can solve this problem.” is a much weaker statement than “Our product can solve this problem.” which sounds more confident and knowledgeable. 

4. Maybe / Just 

The terms “maybe” and “just” are another pair of words to never use when replying to clients. 

These terms are often used when a speaker is unsure of something. 

“Maybe” offers you a way of hedging that a particular outcome may be possible but isn’t certain, while “just” offers you a way to limit your statement and remain vague. 

This can be frustrating for a client who wants a clear answer about a problem from a knowledgeable expert. 

Consider this example: 

Look at how unsure “I’ll have an answer for you in maybe another day or two.” comes across compared to “I’ll have an answer for you in another day or two.” 

5. Hope 

The word “hope” is another term that can leave your clients feeling uncertain about the products and services you provide. 

If you tell your clients that you “hope they are satisfied,” you may be saying something you didn’t intend. 

A client could interpret your reply as saying that there was more that could have or should have been done but was not. 

Whenever possible, it’s always better to leave things on more certain terms. 

Consider this example: 

“ABC Company aims for complete satisfaction. Get in touch if you need further assistance.” is better than “We hope you are happy with your purchase. Please contact us if you need further assistance.” which sounds less certain. 

6. If 

Another word to avoid writing to clients is the very common word “if.” 

“If” can be a very useful word in cases where you want to give an example or you need to explain that a particular outcome depends on certain conditions. 

But in emails to clients, using the word “if” can be tricky. 

It’s all too easy to use “if” in a way that diminishes what the client is telling you, which can harm your client relationships and affect your sales. 

Consider this example: 

“I’m sorry if you were disappointed in your service today.” doesn’t validate the client’s experience as well as a sentence like “I’m sorry we didn’t meet your expectations today.” does. 

7. Appear / Seem

Emails with the words “appear” or “seem” can communicate a lot more meaning than you intended, and often that meaning has a negative connotation. 

Unfortunately, “appear” and “seem” can be used to dodge blame or hint that a client doesn’t know what they’re doing when they have a problem with your product or service. 

It’s good to remember that if a client is telling you there is a problem, there isn’t the appearance or seemingness of a problem — there is a problem. 

Consider this example: 

“It seems like you had trouble with the implementation of this product. I apologize about that.” carries a judgement and shifting of blame that isn’t there in “I’m sorry you had trouble with the implementation of this product.” 

8. Should / Ought 

The words “should” and “ought” are another pair it’s best to avoid in emails to clients. 

Both of these words can be used in ways that imply uncertainty, an obligation or a judgement that isn’t desirable when you’re trying to be helpful to clients. 

If a product “should” work or a client “ought” to be able to complete a task, it’s better to say that it does. Then address any problems the client has if it doesn’t. 

Consider this example: 

While a sentence like “You ought to be able to sign up and then it should work.” sounds uncertain and judgemental, “Follow these steps to sign up and access our product.” sounds confident and helpful. 

9. Never / Always / Again 

One of the most important words to never say in a reply to a client is, in fact, the word “never” — along with the related words “always” and “again.” 

In business, it’s generally true that you should never say “never.” 

Saying that a client’s problem has “never” happened before, that a problem “always happens” or that a client has experienced the same problem “again” can communicate a lot of negativity, judgement and blame. 

When you’re writing your clients, it’s better to cut these words out of your vocabulary. 

Consider this example: 

“This feature never works for new clients.” is a sentence you definitely want to avoid typing. Instead, try “This feature can be tricky, but I’m going to show you how to use it.”

10. Fault / Blame 

The terms “fault” and “blame” are our last pair of words to never type in a reply to a client. 

While a lot of words on this list can hint at judgement over who is right or wrong, the words “fault” and “blame” make it explicit. 

To be sure, the customer isn’t always right. But business isn’t meant to be a contest about who’s right or wrong. 

When a customer is wrong, it can be very powerful to show that you are focused on solving challenges for your clients and not on who’s to blame for this or that misunderstanding. 

Consider this example: 

A sentence like “It’s not our fault the delivery was delayed by the transit company.” can start an argument instead of solving the problem. Try “I apologize the delivery has been delayed and am in the process of finding out where your package is and when it will be delivered.” instead.

More Tips for Replying to Clients in Emails 

Writing emails for business can be tricky, even when you know which words to avoid in replies to clients. 

To sound polite and professional online, there are a number of rules of email etiquette you’ll definitely want to observe. It can help you avoid missteps and build better business relationships. 

Another trick for turning out high-quality, consistent messaging quickly is to use templates for writing to your clients. Templates can save a lot of time and help you sound professional every time you need to write a reply. 

Lastly, if you’re getting a lot of email, it may be time to add a tool like Folio that helps you be more efficient and productive. 

Folio is a smart email add-on that lives in your inbox and uses AI-powered algorithms to organize your emails and save you time. 

Folio also lets you create and share professional project timelines in seconds, keeping your clients up to date and saving you time answering their replies. 

Try Folio today for free and impress your clients and save more time on your email. 

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