At Ruby, we believe in delivering world-class customer service. When we interact with our callers and clients over the phone we’re determined not only to help, but to create a positive experience for who we’re helping. How do we accomplish this? Largely by tone and phrasing! Here are a few tips for taking your conversational skill to the next level.
As you can see from the image, responding in a different tone can be awfully confusing! Tone of voice is one of the most pivotal parts of conversation—it immediately tells a caller how sincere and empathetic we are. While a friendly and warm tone is almost always the best choice, there are times where adjusting tone to match your caller is better. If a caller is excited and happy, matching their gleeful tone is perfect. If they’re complaining or having a tough day, a more serious approach will help them feel understood and validated. If someone speaks at a slower pace, slowing your pace will help them feel more at ease.
When offering a caller assistance, it’s important to only offer help you can actually deliver. Your offer should be sincere with no strings attached! You’ll want to express not only that you can help, but you’re delighted to be of service. Here are some examples of more polished offers of assistance than the one illustrated above:
- “I guess I could…” vs. “One option would be…”
- “If you want me to…” vs. “If it’s helpful to…”
- “I can…” vs. “I’d be happy to…”
Set Clear Expectations
When chatting with a client, you may come across a request you have to say no to. When doing so, it’s important to set clear expectations about what you can do for them and what you can’t—and be polite while doing so. While this sounds intimidating, it doesn’t have to be! Using more polished phrasing can quell a caller’s frustration and show you really are on their side.
Think about the way you begin saying no. Are you inadvertently criticizing the caller’s request? Swapping a phrase like, “It’s not a good idea to…” for a phrase like, “In my experience…” is far less judgmental. Saying a phrase like, “I wish I could, but…” isn’t very helpful either. It may seem like a way to show empathy for your client, however, it only reinforces the image of your being powerless to help—and that’s not the case! It simply may be your way of helping is bit different than your client originally envisioned.
The most important aspect of any apology is its sincerity. A disingenuous apology is worse than none at all, so skip saying “I’m sorry” if you don’t mean it. Alternatively, you may find you really are sorry for an error you’ve made, and let your client know multiple times. Over-apologizing can undermine your client’s confidence in you as they begin to doubt how competent you are. Saying a phrase like, “I’m sorry, but…” can also weaken an apology. The word “but” negates everything in front of it! Try swapping to, “I’m sorry and…” if you have more to say. The key is to keep it simple, acknowledge your client’s feelings, and say sorry once—and mean it.
If you’re receiving a compliment from your client, avoid shirking it off. False modesty does the opposite of what we intend—it can be dismissive and stand in the way of opportunities you truly deserve. Using phrases like, “It wasn’t a big deal,” and “Stop! It was nothing!” invalidate the very statement someone has made to you. Responding with an insincere compliment right back can also backfire, as you run the risk of your client feeling as though they’re being lied to. Simply saying, “thank you” is the way to go—accept the compliment and get back to building connections!
The path to positive customer communication doesn’t require a complete language overhaul—just a little makeover! Swapping out a the phrases we’ve highlighted above will ensure your customer’s feel heard, understood and appreciated.