The Importance of Tone of Voice in Customer Service
Words are powerful. Especially in customer service where you are constantly in touch with your customers. The very best customer service can lose its leads using the wrong tone of voice. And on the other side, the worst complaint, if solved properly, can generate more leads.
The ability to give information customers need using the right tone of voice and with a smile is how every customer agent should behave. Especially because their interaction is impossible face-to-face, and tone of voice there takes a very important part.
So, let’s explain the meaning of tone of voice and its importance in customer service.
What does the Tone of Voice actually mean?
The Classroom described it perfectly: “Tone of voice is your ability to change the meaning of the words you say by changing your pitch, intonation, volume, and tempo. Because listeners use sound to interpret your message, being sensitive to how your tone of voice affects what they hear can make you a better communicator.”
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.
The Importance of Tone of Voice in Customer Service
According to research: “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 for your customer support should be among your top priorities, as tone must evolve to meet the needs of the specific customer you’re talking to. Customer service agents are not able to use facial expressions or body language to express themselves, so their only way is through tone of voice. So, train 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 as for the employee and for a customer.
After training, write a guide and implement it in 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 affects 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 reputation.
Picture 2. Customer Preferences
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. But what you should also consider, 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 Your Tone of Voice in Customer Service
Set positive tone
Try to be positive right from the beginning of the call. Answer with a warm greeting. That will immediately improve customer experience and increases the chance of the agent capturing a complete message.
Consider the context
Frontline, the customer communications experts described this perfectly:
“The context of the call will tell you immediately what sort of tone you should take for the call’s duration. If someone is angry or calling to complain, you should use calm and professional tones. If someone is sad or emotional, you should be gentle, understanding and kind. When it is a business call, you will need to be clear and concise. Context is extremely important in making sure your tone of voice is appropriate for the circumstances of the call.”
Customers can easily attack you with a bunch of question or complaints. Staying calm in that type of situation is a win situation. The customer knows when you are defending yourself, because your voice is changing, and you are only making a situation worse because you are having an argument with them. So, try to avoid that by being calm and a good listener.
Here are a few tips ToughNickel wrote to help prepare you to be a better listener:
- Take a deep breath before replying.
- Wait two 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 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 who will then stay loyal to the product or service you are offering, and who will spread the good news. And all that because you showed them 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 all that by setting 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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