As a customer experience advocate and a sarcastic humor enthusiast, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the importance of tone and the art of conversational balance both as a consumer and a service provider. I remember when I was first honing the art of sarcasm as a young adult and accidentally offended others with my failed delivery of sarcastic quips. Now working on the Act! Cloud Customer Success team (Beta now open – sign up here), I’ve become even more interested in avoiding unintentional negative interactions while maintaining the sincerity of Swiftpage’s fun culture. Whether you’re working on internal, marketing, or support related communications, your tone can greatly affect the successful transmission of your message.
Here are a few steps to help your business check your tone while maintaining personality (when you can):
Knowing your audience matters. Not only your target audience, but your actual audience matters. Communication styles across different regions, generations and other demographics can vary immensely so you want to be aware of who you’re communicating with and how they may perceive your message.
Sincerity is the best policy. Your company tone has to be rooted in your company culture to maintain its authenticity and help keep it consistent. You can try provided a tone description to your company, but you will find that people see right through it. Southwest Airlinesis a great example of exuding their tone by living their culture.
Know when to tone it down. Your tone can vary slightly by interaction type and the expectations of your audience. If someone is receiving a sales or marketing message, they are likely more open to your personality and humor, while a technical support or billing related inquiry should be dealt with in a more serious or professional manner.
Recognize conversational queues. Not only should you understand the generalities of your audience or interaction type, but listen to them. The tone you use should reflect your customer’s unique disposition or current state of mind when dealing with them directly. We’ve all had the apathetic, or wannabe comedian chime in at our most frustrated, which tends to make the situation that much worse.
In the end, conversation is an art. You won’t always get it right, but as long as you recognize the effect your tone has, and maintain it as a priority, you can ensure that you will continue to improve.
How does your business maintain a consistent and appropriate tone?