The Importance of Tone of Voice in Customer Service
⏱ Reading Time: 6 minutes
Words are powerful.
Especially when you are constantly in touch with your customers, like in customer service. Even the greatest companies can lose their leads just by using the wrong tone of voice in customer service. On the other side, the worst complaint, if solved properly, can generate even more leads.
The ability to talk to customers properly by using the right tone of voice while giving them the information they need is the foundation of good customer service. Especially because the interaction in customer service is impossible face-to-face so it’s all about the tone of voice.
In this blog, we’ll clarify the tone of voice, what it depends on, and see why it is so important in customer service.
What Does the Tone of Voice Actually Mean?
GatherContent has described it well:
“From web copy to tweets to brochures to videos, tone of voice for a brand is everywhere and applies to all channels and touchpoints. It’s about taking the personality of your organization and expressing it through the way you say things.”
So, it is one of the inevitable elements of communication. And it isn’t about what we say, but how you say it.
UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian came up with a 7-38-55 formula for successful communication. He divided the communication into three important elements:
- 7% spoken words
- 38% tone of voice
- 55% body language
Picture 1. Elements of personal communication
So, it is obvious that nonverbal cues play an important role in most communication cases and the same in customer service. When you reduce the 55% that your customers don’t see if you are not communicating in person, you are left with fewer options.
What Does the Tone of Voice in Customer Service Depend On?
A customer service agent will probably feel more relaxed to use informal language with someone of their age, than with someone much older, right? Apart from that – it highly depends on the character of the customer reaching out. If someone is raging and refuses to listen, then the customer service agent probably won’t be using the same set of phrases as with someone calling to praise the service and asking about new orders. This is why it is important to set some ground rules on how to act in different situations. It’s quite easy to listen to praises all day long but difficult to keep your cool in a more serious situation.
Customer service training can be of great help here! Practice some usual daily conversation just to be sure you are prepared for any type of situation!
Your tone of voice depends highly on the channel you’re using. If you’re using live chat, then your messages can be a bit more spontaneous. This again depends on your customer’s tone, so if they address you in a formal way, you should follow their tone.
Some context can get lost while typing so make sure you are typing the right things. Watch for ambiguous meaning and use short but straight-to-the-point sentences!
If your customers are calling about a technical issue, then the tone of voice would be much different than with someone asking about your working hours. The topic of the conversation sets a tone of voice that will be used, especially if there are complaints involved.
Tone of Voice in Customer Service
Voice coach Maria Pellicano says: “28 percent of call center voices sound strained, tired, and lack tonality.” That only leads to bad company results because it affects employee performance at work.
Choosing the right tone of voice when offering customer support should be a high priority for your business. And let’s not forget that the tone must evolve to the needs of the individual customers you are talking to. Since it is known that there are no facial expressions in customer service, tone of voice is the only voice. So make sure you use it right by training your team on how to fulfill the needs of a customer and deliver an excellent customer experience.
Those who think training is not helpful or they don’t want to spend their resources are making a huge mistake. Your employees should have enough knowledge of the product and service you are offering, before talking on the phone with customers. And in most, cases, the training turned out to be effective for the employee and for a customer.
After training, the best thing you could do for your employees – a guide. Plus, don’t forget to implement it into your customer service philosophy. It will be easier for your team to focus on their goals.
The Casual or Formal Tone of Voice?
The easiest part is to answer the phone. But how are you going to answer is what makes a difference. It is the tone of voice that has an impact on the whole conversation. Nobody wants to talk to a person who is rushed or rude. It affects both the relationship with the customer as much as the company’s reputation.
Picture 2. The tone of Voice can be great support of brand values. Learn to talk to customers!
But then, other research goes that 78% of respondents said that an overly casual has a negative impact on their experience when the agent is denying a request.
Which, when you think of it, makes sense, because then customers will think you are not taking them seriously. There is also one more important thing you need to look at. And that is the mood of your customer. In customer service agents mostly deal with angry and rude customers. And sometimes those customers are testing the patience of an agent. By using the communication techniques they’ve previously learned in their training programs, an agent will be able to manage the situation in the right way.
5 Ways to Improve Tone of Voice in Customer Service
Set a Positive Tone
Try to be positive right from the beginning of the call. Answer with a warm greeting. Show compassion and give out a positive vibe. When you act like this at the very beginning, the customer will get the feeling that you’ve got things under control and maybe relax a little bit. That will immediately improve customer experience and increase the chance of the agent capturing a complete message.
The worst thing you can do when an annoyed customer calls you to complain about something is to start getting defensive. This person is already annoyed and if you start telling them that it’s not your fault and that you’ve done everythng you could, things could escalate really quickly.
Instead – start your answer with a sincere apology. This doesn’t mean that you’re taking the blame for anything. This just means that you’re expressing sympathy, which is a nice start of any kind of customer service convesration. The customer needs to understand that you have their best interest at heart.
Customers always have a lot of questions and complaints, so sometimes your agents can feel attacked. It is a winning situation to remain calm in this type of situation. Customer is aware when you are defending yourself because you are not using the right tone of voice. And you are only making a situation worse because you are having an argument with them.
So, by being calm and a nice listener, try to avoid arguments.
Here are a few tips ToughNickel wrote to help prepare you to be a better listener:
- Take a deep breath before replying.
- Wait 2 seconds after the person finishes speaking before you take your turn.
- Show a sincere interest by asking questions on the topic.
- Care about what’s being said by the other person.
- Do not interject. As difficult as this might be, learn to restrain yourself.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Would you want to talk to someone who is unhappy, rude, uninterested or unfriendly? The answer is no in almost every case. Even though you are having a bad day at work, you shouldn’t show that to your customers. Simply fix it with a smile because it can affect the way you speak and it can be “heard” through the phone.
Show Understanding and Be Supportive
By showing your customers that you will listen to them and make your best to find a solution, you are building a strong relationship with them. Customer will then stay loyal to the product or service you are offering and they will spread the good news. And they stay loyal because you showed something important – that your number one priority is taking care of your customer by using the right tone of voice. Here is a great example:
Picture 3. Customer good news
Make Your Customers Happy
As the famous quote says: “People don’t always remember what we say, but they never forget how we make them feel.”
And that is the base for everything. If you manage to make your customers happy and satisfied with the product or service you are offering, you will be satisfied both with the outcome and the way you manage the situation. And of course, don’t forget to set the right tone of voice.
Have you already tried changing your tone? And if so, have you noticed any changes in your customer’s reactions?
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