Annoying Business Buzzwords and Phrases

annoyed-woman.jpgWhen I hear one of these phrases, a part of me cringes. Are people still talking like this? Are they listening to what they’re saying?

“We offer excellent customer service” – OK, what else do you do. Excellent customer service is standard nowadays. This phrase does NOTHING to set you apart. Plus, “excellent” is such a vague term with little metric value (see post on boastful superlatives).

“We are never too busy for your referrals.” – I would hope not – your chances of closing the deal on a referral are much higher than a cold-call. Who in their right mind would be “too busy?” Are you attempting to solicit your current clients to send you referrals with this message? If so, you might want to try mentioning how your service will be different. Maybe something like, “We treat your referrals like family.”

“This is a ‘turnkey’ solution.” – Enough of the buzzwords. They are fads. They get old. They do not make you seem smarter. Check out Scott Ginsberg’s blog for more annoying buzzwords .


Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit

The Friendly DMV (no, really!)

smiley-sticker-004-thumbnail.jpgThis afternoon I stopped by the Alexandria, VA Department of Motor Vehicles expecting long lines, rude attendants and a big hassle.

I walked in and was politely greeted by a smiling woman at the information booth.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it? How can I help you today?”

At which point I mentioned that I needed to change my address since I just moved to the area.

“Don’t forget about your vehicle registration too. Here’s the form for that as well.”

“OK” I said to myself,  “maybe she’s just new here. I’ve never seen a DMV employee that happy.” I sat down, filled out my paperwork and waited for my number to be called.

After only 8 minutes I was speaking to the teller, a gentleman who was just as friendly as the lady at the information booth. At the end of the transaction he gave me a handshake and said, “Thanks, you’ll need to bring this form to the voter  registration station. It’s located just over there – have a great day.”

At this point I began to get a little suspicious. Aren’t these people supposed to hate their jobs? It feels so strange to get such excellent service at the DMV.

Still, the woman at the voter registration booth topped them all. After reviewing my paperwork, she placed an orange smiley sticker on my hand.

“What’s that for?”  I asked.

“You get a sticker because you completed your paperwork correctly.”

Really?! Cool. I know it seems elementary, but it was nice to be acknowledged. A smile, sunny disposition and a simple sticker was more effective (and way cheaper) than a marketing effort like direct mail or advertising claiming to have “great customer service.”

I walked away feeling like I needed to be pinched my experience was so satisfying. Maybe I moved to the Twilight Zone?

Word of Mouth Advertising: Give ‘Em Something to Talk About

Something to talk aboutEarlier this week I awoke to find my car vandalized. In the middle of the night someone smashed the windshield, stole my stereo and broke the steering column.

Stressed and frustrated I called my insurance company, GEICO. I was dreading the conversation, expecting to speak with a callous insurance agent that couldn’t care less about my situation. Although I had never before filed a claim with GEICO, I developed a preconceived expectation based on the hundreds of customer service reps I’ve been on the phone with over the years.

To my surprise, the GEICO agent (I wish I remembered her name!!!) went above and beyond.

“Ms. Morris” she said, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been with GEICO for over 7 years. Thank you for being a dedicated customer. I know you might be worried about how this will effect your premium. This is covered under the comprehensive portion of your policy and since it’s a not-at-fault claim, your premiums won’t increase. I’d be glad to help you find a body shop in your area and arrange for you to drive a rental car while your car is being worked on.”

Wow. Thank you for talking to me like I’m an actual human being and not just a number. You exceeded my expectations and now I am telling my friends.

The lesson? People will talk if you give them something to talk about.

If you meet my expectations and nothing more – I have no story.

If you are terrible and don’t meet my expectations – I will bash you.

If you are stellar and exceed my expectations – I will praise you. This is the key to Viral Marketing.


Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit