We’ve written about why customer service representatives need proper training to become effective and knowledgeable ambassadors for your products, but equally important is the way they communicate this information. Specifically, there is likely room for improvement in your employees’ tone of voice when speaking to customers.
According to Psychology Today, a generalization can be made that 55% of communication consists of body language, 38% consists of tone, and the last 7% is the actual words used. So, we’ve covered how to prepare your employees for the 7% portion of this recipe, but what about the major pieces leftover?
Since much of customer service communication support occurs over the phone, the body language portion of our communication strategy is partially sidelined. That leaves the tone of voice as the MVP when it comes to providing a positive service experience.
What’s so Important about Tone?
The Guardian describes the importance of tone (and a good voice overall) in building trust, especially when face-to-face interaction isn’t possible. Just because a customer has called an official helpline for your company doesn’t mean they automatically have a positive perception of the representative who answers. In fact, if the customer is calling for help or to complain, they could be starting the interaction with a negative perception. It’s up to the representative to share their knowledge in a friendly and positive way to solve the problem and foster a good relationship with the customer.
The Importance of Attitude
We believe one of the biggest factors in someone’s tone of voice is their attitude. Our tone of voice can go rogue if we aren’t careful, causing us to unknowingly share frustrations we want to hide or create a false perception of what we’re really thinking. Instilling a positive attitude is the best way to combat mistakes in how someone conveys their voice. If an employee is in a pleasant mood and feeling confident, their tone will more likely produce an upbeat feeling to create positive customer interaction.
While negative attitudes exist and cause issues, we have found an arguably larger issue to combat: the neutral attitude. Unlike a bad attitude, neutral attitudes are sneaky. Customer service representatives take countless calls, repeating the same scripts, and solving the same problems. Even for the most effective representatives, this work can wear on a person, potentially leading to a monotonous or robotic attitude. However, with proper training, your employees can learn to keep their energy up to provide a consistent experience for every caller while avoiding sounding bland or bored on the phone.
The Many Layers of Tone
While attitude is the most important element of tone, representatives also need to consider how their volume, pace, and body position affect their vocal delivery and, by extension, their relationship with the customer.
Volume is probably the most intuitive of these factors. Those who speak too loudly come off as intense or aggressive, while those who speak too softly seem to lack confidence. Representatives who are trained to regulate their volume will be perceived as competent and in control.
The pace or speed at which someone talks also needs to be considered. Speaking too rapidly or slowly can denote nervousness or discomfort—two feelings your customers can and will pick up on if a representative isn’t properly trained. A study by Brown University adds that a person who speaks too fast or slow usually conveys the same amount of information as a person who speaks at a normal rate, but a good pace means less repetition and a happier customer.
Lastly, body position has an effect on someone’s tone of voice. While a customer can’t see a representative on the other end of the phone, the way the representative sits or stands can influence how they sound because our voices are affected by physical attributes like our breathing and vocal cords. If a representative is bent or hunched over, they could be closing their airways off causing them to speak differently due to shortness of breath. Alternatively, if a representative is sitting with good posture, they can open airways and even release hormones to feel and sound more confident on the phone.
Your employees need training on your products and services in order to help customers. However, having the correct information only goes so far—keep in mind, a lackluster delivery could have unintended negative ripple effects for your organization.
Talk to us today to begin training your team to provide the most confident and effective customer service experience in your market by honing in on their tone of voice. Take advantage of our over 30 years of experience—we’ve seen (and heard) it all!