As a whole, people aren’t always focused on the language they use and how it affects those around them. Some even adopt a “Say it as I think it” approach to communicating with others. But what if the words you speak to customers matter more than you think?
The language you choose to use can be a deciding factor in whether or not a potential customer will do business with you or if an existing customer will stick around long-term. And it’s not just positive language vs negative language – the persona your company adopts through content and marketing materials is also important.
If you change your language, you can change your business for the better. If your customers aren’t responding well to the language you’re using now, consider making some of the following tweaks to improve your customer communication.
Change your language, change your business
Swap cold and robotic for warm and professional. If you assumed that being professional meant being cold and robotic, it’s time to reconsider. Some companies make the mistake of removing any trace of humanity or warmth from their business communication and content in an effort to appear professional. This usually backfires, resulting in very low engagement levels and confused, alienated customers.
Instead of being cold and robotic, aim to make your business’ communication language warm and professional. Warm and professional are not mutually exclusive; they can occur together and very often, they do. Look for examples of warm, professional communication in your industry to gather ideas for your own business.
Replace negative with positive. We’ve done a lot of research on positive vs negative language in terms of customer service and customer satisfaction. To state the obvious, customers respond better to positive language than negative. Using positive communication strategies can keep customers from becoming defensive and can help you “spin” bad news in a more positive way to increase customer satisfaction.
Some examples of easy negative-to-positive transitions:
- “No problem” becomes “You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure!”
- “I’ll try to find out” becomes “I’m searching for a solution right now.”
- “It’s not my department” becomes “The person in charge of [department] can help you with that right away, may I transfer you to her now?”
Deliver bad news with a softer touch. Bad news can’t be avoided, but it can certainly be delivered in a more appealing way. As the section above notes, simple word replacements can change the vibe or feeling of a statement considerably. If you must deliver bad news to a customer, you should know how to do so with a positive “spin.”
A few notes for delivering bad news with a soft touch:
- Give reasons when you can. Don’t say no without telling the customer why.
- Have company policies ready so you can easily answer customer questions
- Offer something similar in lieu of what the customer requested
- Be upfront and quick to notify customers about bad news that may affect them