Confirm positive / negative implication of the sentence




When assisting clients, our agents use the help of a script with certain canned responses. I would like to share one such response and confirm if it has a negative or positive implication when pitched to a reader or listener from a customer service perspective or just in general.


"We can certainly try and assist you with this"


Argument is that some say it tends to have a negative implication due to the word "TRY" as it creates a doubt in the readers mind about whether they can be assisted or not.


Similarly some say it’s positive, giving hope to the listener or reader that they will be assisted. 

The purpose of the sentence is to act as a neutral statement in a situation where the agent is not a 100% sure if they can assist the client with their query or not.


Kindly confirm or just give your point of view on whether the sentence is a positive one or negative one towards the listener/reader.



asked Dec 26 '13 at 01:15 Sarmad New member

1 answer


First, the sentence should read, "We can certainly try to assist you with this." 


Realistically, this is about as neutral as you'll be able to get.  I'd guess that many companies have done surveys about what sort of scripts work better or worse. Overall, most people would rather not be on the receiving end of canned responses, so they are starting from a negative perspective. 


For me, personally, I find the phrase "certainly try" to be very annoying.  But that might be because I understand how words are used to influence others.  Certainly is used, as you pointed out, to make me think you will help.  Try is used so I can't say you lied if it turns out that you can't help.  With someone like me, you are stuck between a rock & a hard place. 


Whether your script is perceived positively or negatively really depends on the listener.  You can say the same words to Joe or Jane and they each hear it differently.  It can depend on their mood at the moment, their past experiences with customer service, or many other things.  Likewise, Joe might hear the same sentence positively from you and negatively from the person at the next desk.  Perception is funny that way.  If you are talking to people in the US and you have a very thick accent, some people will hear everything in a negative way.  I know that as I get older, my hearing has been a bit diminished.  When someone talks with a thick accent, or they mimble at all, I have a very difficult time understanding them.  This often puts me in a bad mood.


I would rather hear ""I will try" than "I can certainly help."  There is usually nothing certain about it.  Just a couple weeks ago, I had to do a live chat in an attempt to try to resolve a problem.  The person told me she could "certainly help."  We actually had to try three different things.  She gave me instructions and before I was done following the instructions, she typed, "I am certain this will resolve your issue."  She wrote that each time, and none of them resolved the issue.  In the end, she had to escalate the issue to the next level and have someone contact me later.  She ended the chat by asking, "Have I completely resolved your issue?"  Huh?  This is where scripts completely fail, in my opinion.  Because of the canned responses that made no sense, my experience was much more negative than it might have been. 


I guess what I am trying to say is that even though "try" can sometimes be taken in a negative way, it is more important that you don't lie to your customer.  The more realistic you sound, the more you sound like a person who thinks than a robot that doesn't, the more positive your results will be. 

link comment answered Dec 26 '13 at 12:06 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

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