Yesterday we wrote about how being overly formal in business can make customers uncomfortable. A client playfully quipped on our Facebook page: “Along those lines, can Ruby start answering our firm’s calls with the following: ‘Hey. What do you want, fool?’ Would that be effective? I don’t know. You are the experts.” Jokes aside, he’s absolutely right! Being overly casual can turn off customers, too!

You want to be friendly and make a personal connection, and formality can create a sense of detachment that is hard to overcome. But on the other hand, being too familiar, too fast can have callers doing their best Stephanie Tanner impression:

Customer Service Tip: Casual or Formal?
How rude!

So how can you up the friendly factor without seeming rude? Remember to do these four things every time you interact with a customer, and you’ll surely be on the right track:

  • Enunciate and use proper grammar. This goes for every medium your company uses to communicate with customers, from phone calls to email to social media. It can be tempting to respond quickly with a “Thx! U r awesome!” — especially when you only have 140 characters to work with. Spelling out words completely and correctly and using proper punctuation is worth the extra time; your customers will appreciate the extra care and clarity.
  • Stay positive. Expressive phrasing can make a huge difference on the tone of the conversation. “Absolutely!” and “Certainly!” sound so much more enthusiastic than “Yeah” and “Sure.” You’re glad to have their business; don’t be afraid to show it!
  • Offer assistance. Keep on the lookout for additional ways to help. If you’re unable to do something, propose a different solution. “Let me…,” “I’d be happy to…” and “I’ll gladly…” are fantastic solution starters!
  • When in doubt, get Grandma involved. Try adding “Grandma” to the end of your sentences: “I can’t do that, Grandma,” or “What do you want now, Grandma?” Yikes! Just writing it makes me want to call my grandmother and apologize!

Balancing formality and casualness can be challenging, but it’s all about making your customer feel comfortable and creating a connection. After all, people do business with people they like!