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We’ve all heard the saying: it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
The best customer service professionals put this to practice every day in their work. Yes, it’s important to say the right things and to use words to inspire and motivate customers to act. If, however, you don’t have the kind of delivery that encourages trust or sincerity, even the best written scripts will fall apart.
Why tone of voice is important in customer service
In customer service, your tone of voice is the difference between your words being heard or undermined. It’s the difference, often, between a positive or negative experience. And, for a business, it can be the difference between a lost customer or a lifelong relationship.
Even if you’re an experienced support professional, it’s always a good idea to do a quick refresher to make sure your words—and your tone—are delivering the best experience possible.
Below, Gladly breaks down the basics for tone of voice customer service, as well as channel-specific tone tips for phone, chat, and email.
Customer Service Tone Tips: The Basics
Regardless of the communication platform, there are some general golden rules that every customer service representative should be following.
- Be Positive and Upbeat: Your tone should always start positive and upbeat. There’s a reason why, for decades, customer service leaders have been training representatives to smile while they’re on the phone. It’s because positivity, perhaps more than anything else, will translate onto your customers. It will make them feel better and more comfortable, thus enabling you to make connections and assist your customers.
- Be Natural and Personable: If you’re speaking to customers in a natural, calm, and personable manner, the same way you would with a friend in a coffee shop, then they will often feel calm and comfortable themselves. If you’re going through the motions of a script line-by-line, this will translate as forced, robotic, and clinical, and your customers will notice.
- Be Appropriate: While you want to build a sense of rapport and comfort, you want to maintain a level of professionalism. This means holding back on slang and colloquialisms. Finding the right balance between being formal and casual is a challenge, but if done well, you can turn a seemingly boring conversation about the status of a customer’s package into a memorable and pleasant exchange.
- Learn to Adapt: You should have a base tone from which you start your conversations. Your introduction should be upbeat, positive, and familiar, but from that point on you should be able to adapt based on your customer’s tone. If your customers sound concerned or even angry, be ready to show that you’re hearing them and are there to help them. If you have an older customer, you might have to be a little more formal.
- Be Sincere and Empathetic: Showing empathy and sincerity is more about your listening skills than it is about your speaking skills. When your customer is explaining their story, are you constantly reassuring them that you’re listening? Are you asking questions or giving verbal/written indications that you’re following them along? And are you speaking in a way that shows you care?
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Customer Service Tone Tips: Phone Calls
Even with the advent of chat and social media platforms, a lot of customers still prefer to make a call when they need the support of a customer service representative. When it comes to over-the-phone calls, it’s all about how you’re saying what you’re saying.
- Rhythm, Cadence, and Volume: How fast and clearly you’re speaking can help you sharpen your tone. Speaking too fast makes it seem like you’re in a rush and speaking too slowly makes it seem like you simply don’t care. Speak at a steady pace with a clear and confident voice.
- Facial Gestures and Body Language: If you’re taking any customer service phone call, you should imagine that the person is sitting directly in front of you. When you greet them, smile. When you apologize, show it in your facial gesture. Your voice, your facial gesture, your body language–all of these are working together. Utilizing them in unison will create the most authentic tone.
- Checking for Understanding and Pausing: It’s a good idea to pause and check for understanding while you’re speaking. Not only does it give your customers a chance to ask questions or clarify steps, it also shows you care.
Customer Service Tone Tips: Chat & Email
A lot of the same rules still apply when you’re in an email or chat box exchange, but the way in which you communicate your tone will be slightly different.
[Read More: Text Based Customer Service]
Below are some important ways to maintain tone in a text platform.
- Punctuation: Punctuation can do a lot for setting the tone. Using an exclamation mark, for example, can be an excellent way to show enthusiasm and positivity. Simply writing “Ok.” as a response can come off as cold in some situations. Writing “Ok!” or better “Ok! Got it,” can work a long way to building a positive tone. Overdoing it with punctuation, however, can come across as overly eager or even aggressive in the case of question marks.
- Emojis and Abbreviations: Emojis and abbreviations can be used to make conversations more casual and personable, but they should be used in the right context. Overdoing it with abbreviations should always be done with caution because you don’t know how familiar your customer is with online slang, and smiley faces and emojis, used sparingly, can be great ways to establish a positive vibe.
- Capitalization: When people use all caps in text, it sounds like they’re shouting. There’s no good reason to use all caps in a text unless you’re communicating an abbreviation or name of something.
The first step to getting your tone right is placing your customers at the heart of every conversation. With Gladly, you’re guaranteed a platform that’s centered around your customers. Gladly will help you turn agents into heroes and completely transform your customer service strategy.
Gladly is a customer service platform for digitally-focused B2C companies who want to maximize the lifetime value of their customers. Unlike the legacy approach to customer service software, which is designed around a ticket or case to enable workflows, Gladly enables radically personal customer service centered around people to sustain customer loyalty and drive more revenue.
The world’s most innovative consumer companies like Godiva, JOANN, and TUMI use Gladly to create lasting customer relationships, not one-off experiences.