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by Mary Salgado

Updated:

Jan 13, 2023

Customer Service Voice: Why Is the Tone Important in Customer Service and How to Improve It

The customer service voice is important as it determines whether your customers have a positive or negative experience with your brand. A positive customer service voice can help create loyal customers.

Today's business world is very competitive, and providing excellent customer service can't be stressed enough. The tone of voice plays a crucial role in your customer experience and can demonstrate your empathy, expertise, or any attribute you would like to project to your customers. This positive interaction with your brand's customer service agents will set you apart from the competition. It can make or break your business and it can start arguments and broken relationships. You can also gain the influence, trust, and loyalty of your customers. Let's look into how to convey the right style of interacting with your customer inquiries to foster success.

customer service voice

Have You Heard about the 7-38-55 Rule?

In 1967, UCLA psychology professor Albert Mehrabian conducted studies to understand the importance of non-verbal communication better. His research concluded a communication model consisting of three core elements:

the tone of voice diagram

Spoken words at 7% are the actual words you use. Verbal communication is interestingly only a small fraction of the model.  Non-verbal elements such as the tone of voice, intonation, and volume account for 38% of communication meaning.  Also, non-verbal, visual communication in body language – posture, facial expressions, and gestures, takes up more than half at 55%.

Often, tone, body language, and facial expressions play a huge role in our communications. Yes, it’s particularly true when we communicate in situations where understanding emotions and attitudes are crucial. That is why we at Hit Rate Solutions see emails as less effective than telephone calls, which are less effective than video calls, which are less effective than meetings done face-to-face.

What Tone of Voice Should Customer Service Use?

What can we learn from the 7-38-55 Rule? Nonverbal cues play a significant role in communication, and it’s not always about what you say but how you say it.

In customer service, tone of voice is a critical factor in determining a positive or a negative experience in businesses – an unsatisfied customer or a long-term opportunity. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to tell what kind of tone will be preferred as it’s a case-by-case on various support situations.

Let’s examine customer service tone tips to give a positive experience and create potential long-term business opportunities.

Casual or Formal Tone?

As much as possible, speak as naturally as you can when communicating with a customer. In writing, loosening up a bit helps too. Too neutral of a tone would sometimes come across as disinterested, distant, or monotonous, which might put off some customers. Finding the right balance between friendliness and professionalism is vital to take advantage of all the many benefits of telephone answering services for your business.

the tone of voice diagram

A survey conducted by the consulting firm Software Advice says that 65% of customers across all ages and gender demographics prefer a casual tone over a formal one for customer service and writing style.

You Should Always Take Context into Account

A denied customer’s request is a different story. The preference shifts significantly, and another research suggests that 78% of customers would be dissatisfied if their requests were denied using a casual tone. On the contrary, if requests were granted in a formal tone, only 35% said it would impact their satisfaction. To summarize, in denying a request, it is advisable to say it in a formal tone, and if granting a request, it is best to say it in a casual tone.

the tone of voice diagram

With ample training on communication techniques and developing an ability to pick up on customers’ tone and mood, an agent will manage situations where one has to tailor his/her tone to each customer appropriately.

There Are Boundaries. Learn When to Draw the Line

In the new-age digital era, emoticons [;P], emojis, and colloquialisms [lol, brb] are common in digital communication. But when is it considered too casual and crossing the line? Another survey presented 35% of the respondents feeling that emoticons were too informal. 26% said the same for colloquial words in services like email or live chat support.

A thoughtful approach to reading the situation will be needed. If the customer uses emoticons and so forth, feel free to mirror and respond as deemed appropriate.

What elements do customers find too formal? Some 17% find traditional greetings and closings too much to handle, and the honorifics and courtesy titles put off 14%.

How to Perfect Your Customer Service Tone?

The thing is, there is no perfect formula for finding the best tone for customer service. You have to adapt your tone of voice to the situation. It’s more than enough to let your customer know that you are there to help them and offer solutions to whatever problems they have. Treat your customer with respect and a top-notch positive experience.

Customer Service Tone Tips: the Basics You’ll Need to Know

Before you start answering support emails or incoming phone calls, your customer service team should be aware of the basics before they begin fielding phone calls or answering inquiries from your customers. Here are some basics that all customer service agents should keep in mind:

  • Always be upbeat and use a positive tone: Your customer service voice should be upbeat and positive as often as possible. Regardless of the customer's tone, whether they're calling to complain or simply need assistance, the right tone of voice is positive and understanding. For decades, customer service staff have been trained to smile while they're on the phone. This can help produce more positive language that results in long-term customer loyalty. Having the right tone can make customer conversations much more enjoyable and help you make lasting connections with your audience.
  • Be natural and personable: Your customer support team should strive to speak in a natural tone of voice just as they would talk to a friend in a coffee shop. Using this same voice that's approachable and friendly can help make your customers feel that much more comfortable during the conversation. You'll also want to do your best to refrain from sounding robotic regardless of whether you have to follow a particular script. Even though there will always be rude customers, it's best to prioritize building long-term customer relationships through a friendly tone.
  • Be appropriate: There will undoubtedly be the occasional irate customer who tests your patience. Or maybe you turn to humor to create a positive vibe during the phone call. Regardless of how the conversation is unfolding, you'll always want to reduce any slang or colloquialisms during the conversation. It's important that you find the right balance between being professional while still making your customers happy and content. When done well, you can still deliver bad news to your customers in a professional and understanding manner.
  • Adapt as you go: Not all customer interactions are created equal and there will be individual customers who steer the conversation in a direction you might not have suspected. It's important that you have a baseline tone of voice from which you start your conversations. This will prepare you to adapt to a different tone depending on what the customer needs. For example, maybe one of your customers is elderly and might need more guidance and formality compared to someone younger.
  • Be sincere: Showing empathy and sincerity for the array of customer problems that you're helping to solve can go a long way. Make sure that you take the time to listen to their story and what they have to say before you move forward with the wrong tone. 

Customer Service Tone Tips: Chat and Email

Not all customers receive support in the same manner, and many prefer to interact with customer service representatives over chat and email. While many of the same basic rules apply, here are some specifics to keep in mind for these mediums:

  • Punctuation is important: To convey more than one tone, you can use different punctuation such as exclamation points to give more meaning to your positive words and phrases. For example, if you simply write "Ok." in response to an inquiry as opposed to writing something such as "Okay, got it!", your customers will have a different experience. However, be sure that you don't overdo it with punctuation as it can come across as aggressive or overly eager in solving customer problems, especially when it comes to question marks or exclamation points.
  • Emojis and abbreviations: If your brand voice takes on a more casual tone, you can also use emojis and abbreviations sparingly. Using these can make for successful communication as it makes the tone of voice more approachable and casual. You'll want to avoid using too many emojis or abbreviations as it can further confuse your audience if he or she isn't familiar with what you're trying to convey. If needed, you can refer to your tone of voice style guide to determine if emojis and abbreviations are part of your brand.
  • Capitalization: If you've ever been on the receiving end of an email or text message that's written in all caps, you know just how jarring it can be. Using all caps can make it seem as though you are shouting to your audience, and there's no good reason to use all caps unless you are referring to an abbreviation or the name of something in particular.

Customer Service Tone Tips: Phone Calls

It's important to use the right tone over phone calls as well. Although there are many overlapping tips similar to what we've discussed thus far, it's important to cover calls as they're a huge part of the vast majority of customer service inquiries. Even though more and more companies are offering chat features, there's something to be said about having a whole conversation over the phone with a customer.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of your rhythm, cadence, and volume: Make sure that you're aware of how quickly and clearly you're speaking to your customers and you should always be easy to understand. If you speak too quickly, it can make it seem as though you're in a rush to get off the phone and onto the next caller. If you speak too slowly, this can make it seem as though you don't care about the conversation. You'll want to speak at a suitable pace in a clear and confident manner to assure the customer that you'll be able to help them.
  • Be mindful of your facial gestures and body language: Even if you're taking an inquiry over the phone, you'll want to imagine if the person is sitting directly across from you at a coffee shop. For example, if you are apologizing to them, make sure that you show it in your facial gesture. This works together with your body language and your tone of voice to create a positive experience for your customer. In combination, this will help to create an authentic tone.
  • Check-in with the customer and pause regularly: When in doubt, pause for a moment to check in with your customer for understanding during the conversation. Doing so gives your customers an opportunity to ask any clarifying questions. It also shows that you care about the positive outcome of the situation. 

Don't hesitate to contact us for additional information!

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