Among the many ways to make our customers happy, one that often gets overlooked is tone. It’s easy for our customers to feel like a insignificant specks in a queue of tickets! They need to know they’re not. They want to know that their issue is as important to us as it is to them.

Developing consistency in our support team’s tone and language can lead to a better overall experience for our customers. Tone helps us connect with our customers in an endearing way. And the payoffs can be big.

Here’s a few tips for developing a team’s customer service tone:

Set a North Star

We are grateful for our customers. We have great respect for them. We listen. We are open for the next communication. We are here for them.

In all customer communications, they’re doing us the favor. Not the other way around 😊.

To the customer, our language and tone say: I am grateful for you. I have great respect for you. I am listening. I am open. I am here.

Ask, Don’t Demand

Many customer interactions will include instructions. As a general guideline, invite them to take these steps. Try not to tell them. And make it easy for them to say no. Often making the request a question is a great start.

For example:

  • Good: "Please take a screenshot so I can see what’s happening and compare it to what I see on my end."
  • Better: "Would you be up for taking a screenshot of that? It would be a huge help if I can compare it to what I see on my end."

Taking Blame

We should always try to take blame for any confusion or problem. In general, if we can avoid "you" or "your" when diagnosing the problem, we should stick with that. This includes third party troubles (delivery service was late, browser crashed, etc). When in a pinch, eliminate pronouns entirely with and don’t hesitate to use the word "sorry."

For Example:

  • Bad: "You set your timezone incorrectly."
  • Good: "Your timezone is set to the wrong time zone. Oops!"
  • Better: "I think we got your timezone wrong here; sorry about that! Would you mind hopping into the "schedule" tab and double checking?"

Apologizing

We should feel free to use the word “Sorry,” and address the end result for the customer, not the end result for us, if possible.

For example:

  • Good: "I’m so sorry that our scheduler wasn’t working.
  • Better: "I’m so sorry for the awful interruption in your day we’ve caused you."

Formality

Our customers are some of the kindest around, and they’re totally cool. And we address them like friends who we respect. (As we would speak to one of our own teammates.) Also, if we’re expressing an emotion in a 1:1 communication, use "I" instead of "we." When in doubt, speak for yourself and not on behalf of the whole company, as it is more honest.

Example:

  • Good: "We appreciate you writing in."
  • Better: "Hi there! Great to hear from you. Thanks for asking!"

Salutations

When greeting a customer we should be warm, friendly, and approachable. Use names whenever possible. Try to invite a reply without demanding one. Here are a few different examples for different kinds of situations:

Opening a conversation:

  • Good: "Dear Becky,"
  • Better: "Hi there, Becky!" or "Heya Becky" ("Heya" may be super casual but also feels so personal and warm)

Closing a conversation:

  • Good: "Thank you. Best, Carolyn"
  • Better: "Thanks so much for this detail, Becky. Looking forward to figuring this out together. :) All the best, Carolyn"

Quick replies:

  • Good: "Yes, I can take care of that for you."
  • Better: "Hey Anthony! Sure thing, I can take care of that for you."

Quick suggestions:

  • Good: "Try refreshing. Thanks!"
  • Better: "Hmm, maybe try a refresh? That fix it?"

Saying thanks:

  • Good: "Thanks!"
  • Better: "Thanks, Anthony!"