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Receptionist Etiquette Tips: Importance of Tone of Voice in Customer Service

Receptionist Etiquette Tips: Importance of Tone of Voice in Customer Service

This week’s receptionist etiquette tips article involves understanding the importance of tone of voice in your customer service. Your telephone agent’s tone will tell your customers who you are, what you stand for and what they can expect from your office.  

We’ll talk you through the most important elements of verbal communication and show you how to select the tone that’ll resonate with your target market.  

Our Receptionist Etiquette Tips to Help Improve Customer Service

The 3 Important Elements of Communication

In 1967, Albert Mehrabian came up with the 7%-38%-55% rule determining that communication is made up of 3 parts:

  • • 7% of meaning is in the actual words you use
  • • 38% of meaning is in your tone
  • • 55% of meaning is in your body language

Customer service departments need to focus on the 45% of verbal communication that is transmitted over the telephone. While a carefully written script can be helpful, it only accounts for 7% of Mehrabian’s communication likability rule. Since the actual tone and delivery of what is said accounts for 38%, it’s very important that your customer service telephone agents keep their tones in mind.

Yes, telephone agents cannot be seen by the calling customer. But you may be surprised to learn that while a virtual receptionist’s body language cannot be seen, their posture can make a difference in tone delivery. It’s reported that, “People who have good posture tend to come across more enthusiastic in the phone than those who don’t.”  

Another one of our recommended receptionist etiquette tips is training your customer service agents to smile while on the phone. This trivial tip can directly affect the tone and delivery of your CS agents. The science behind smiling teaches us that, “Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.” Get your agents excited about this sale’s trick of smiling and dialing.

Using Tonality to Build Rapport

Building a favorable rapport with callers is extremely important when fielding customer service telephone calls. A well-trained customer service agent will be able to quickly gain a calling customer’s trust and confidence. One of the secrets to building a positive and effective rapport with a caller leads back to the tone in which the message is delivered.

Enlightenment Magazine share three tones your customer agents can portray to their callers:   

  • • Rapport-Seeking Tonality (has an up inflection towards the end of the statement or question and often sounds sing-songy) This tone is best used for initial greetings, seeking information, and confirmations of agreement when unsure.
  • • Neutral Tonality (typically has a flat tone) This tone seeks less to connect with the customer and are used more to express information. There is no emotional attachment to the neutral tone and is often seen as a courtesy. This tone is best used when making statements of fact, such as company policies.
  • • Command Tonality (has a down vocal inflection down at the end of the statement or question) This tone is best used when you want to get confirmation or wish to close a sale. The command tone is powerful and – when combined with strong body language – may be overwhelming if used too often.

Depending on your brand and desired company culture, train your customer service telephone agents in these standard tones.  

Know Your Customer’ Preferences 

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times, it’s vital that you know your target market through and through. Your telephone customer support team needs to be trained on your specific target market’s preferences. 

Is your brand’s image more casual, informal or formal when speaking with customers? Depending on the demographic you’re catering to, you’ll need to decide on the overall voice of your company’s image.  

Let’s say you sell surfboards and in your market research, you discover that your customers prefer a more casual, laidback tone. Have your customer support team stay clear of tones that are dripping with formality that may be seen as stiff or robotic to your clientele.  

Customer Service Investigator (CSI) shares two statistics that will help you in understanding how your tone of voice can directly impact customer satisfaction levels. 

  • • 78% of participators said agents using a casual tone when denying a request would have at least some negative impact on their customer satisfaction.
  • • 35% of participators said they would be bothered if a support agent used an overly formal tone when granting a request.

Create Specific Customer Service Guidelines

So you’ve finished defining your company’s image and performed extensive target market research. You’re now ready to sit down and write out a customer service procedure manual for your agents to be trained on.

Having exact policies, practices and procedures written down in black and white allows your entire team to meet your customer service expectations. When your team has a manual, you’re able to present a uniformed customer service experience that can be easily duplicated with all of your callers. Your customer service agents will also be fully informed on what they should do and what they can do when assisting your callers.

When presenting the new customer service procedure manual be sure to spend time training your CS agents in active listening. Active listening will allow your agents to decipher their caller’s stress and frustration levels. Depending on the nature of the call, your customer support team may need to change their style or approach mid-conversation.   

Always record your customer service calls for quality assurance and discuss the results with your support team during a weekly meeting. Monitoring your customer service team’s performance will allow you to have continued training sessions with your agents. Allow everyone to hear the good and the bad call examples so, as a group, they can constantly improve their approaches.  

Outsourcing Customer Service Support

As you can see in these detailed receptionist etiquette tips, the tone of your telephone agents’ voices directly affect your customer service satisfaction. If you don’t have the time, patience or resources to train your team in these tonality and message delivery tips, we can help. 

Our digital call center has a redundant, 24-hour customer service team that’s already trained in providing excellent customer service. To discuss your custom needs, give us a call today at 1-800-785-6161 to speak with our account specialist.

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