Positive Communication in Customer Service
The way you say things matters, it can be the difference between a satisfied customer and an angry one, even if we are talking about the same situation. Positive communication in customer service helps to soften the impact of bad news, for example.
It isn't about lying or covering facts, on the contrary, being sincere and honest is essential in positive communication. How are you going to conquer a customer's trust without it? You can't. But, you need to think before speaking and choose the right words, to transmit reliability, calm, and the desire to solve a problem.
You can use positive communication in all channels of communication with your customers, live chat, email, social media. Not only on customer service, but also when talking with your team, to help with management as well.
Positive Communication has the purpose to make people feel good after they leave a conversation.
It's choosing the right words that help to focus on the positive aspects of a situation by, for example, showing empathy, being comprehensive, and offering a solution, instead of concentrating on how bad the problem is.
The language used to talk with customers has the power to make them love your company and become loyal customers or decide to never come back, write bad reviews and tell their friends not to trust your company. Many times the decisive factor is the language used to treat them.
Dealing with customers isn’t an easy task and it presents many challenges, but using positive communication can give better results, and make the relationship with clients simpler to deal with. Positive language shows to the customers that you understand their situations, make them see that they matter, and are heard.
For example, Instead of saying: "Unfortunately your order has been delayed. You will receive the package soon", you could say:
"Hi (customer's name), We are really sorry to inform you that your order was delayed. It will be delivered in 10 days. We can certainly understand the inconvenience it may have caused, so we would like to reimburse you 25% of the purchase value."
In the second example, the communication is personalized by saying the customer’s name, there is an apology, and a solution is offered along with a way to compensate the customer. Phrases like "we can certainly understand" help to demonstrate empathy.
Communication is about building relationships, creating experiences, and you should start by greeting the person you are talking to, instead of going directly to the main message. It personalizes the conversation with the customer, and it's an opportunity to connect.
Think about when you go to a doctor’s appointment and, when you enter the room, there is no greeting from the professional, or when a teacher enters the classroom and doesn't bother to greet the students. Doesn't it feel uncomfortable?
Research made in New Zealand analyzed 515 emails in 2 different organizations. One facing problems with turnover and low morale and the other with a positive culture.
They realized that in the organization with problems there was a socially distant and indirect style of communication, usually, the emails didn't have any greeting or closure. While on the other one, the use of greetings and closures helped to develop a better relationship between the staff and managers.
Greeting examples and the message it may transmit:
- Wotcha! - friendly, but perhaps too informal.
- Hi or Hey - natural, polite and friendly,
- Good morning to you, my fine fellow - old-fashioned, and maybe over-the-top.
- You are through to - too formal, cold, and not so friendly.
"Don't", "won't", "can't", "unable", "stop": are all examples of negative words that can put the listener on the defensive, or make them feel unhappy. Not using them can be a challenge, but you could rephrase the words and emphasize positive aspects.
For example, instead of saying, "It's impossible to deliver this task in one hour", you could substitute the phrase to "If you can give me 2 hours, I will be able to deliver an amazing job".
Or "We can't deliver the order in 2 days", to "We can deliver the order in 5 days". In both cases, the second option provides a solution and shows commitment to doing something.
Examples of phrases you can use for positive communication in customer service:
- Thanks so much for alerting us…
- I would recommend…
- I will personally check that for you.
- I suggest that you…
- I am sorry to hear about this (customer's name).
Negative words will put the highlights on what you don't want to, which can make the customer feel frustrated and unhappy. Try to avoid phrases and words like:
- I don't understand
- There's nothing we can do
- I'm not sure
- I don't know
You can replace them with:
- The problem seems to be that…?
- I'm really sorry to hear that. I can (explain what is possible to be done).
- Let me double-check to see what can be done.
- I believe…
- I will check
When you use phrases like "You have to", or "You must", customers may feel like you are trying to order them to do something, as they are being forced. That can make them more reluctant to listen to you, turning a simple issue into a big problem.
To be more motivating, you could use "you can…", "please,...", which are much more effective approaches. Try to put words in a way to show benefits to the customer, emphasizing what you are saying is the solution to a problem, not an attempt to make them do what you want.
When a customer gets in contact about a problem, it's important to have a guideline inside the company to know how to proceed in different situations, so you will know what solutions you can offer. Before sending any answer, assess the context, what are the positive aspects that you can highlight?
For example, is it possible to offer compensation for the customer's inconvenience? What is the most effective way to solve the complaint? With that clear, you will be able to write a message that shows the good side, instead of just acknowledging the issue, which does nothing for the customer.
If you are in doubt about what the customer has just told you, ask more questions to understand the situation. Instead of just saying, "I don't know" or "I don't understand", explain that you need more information to offer the best solution, which shows you are interested.
When you just say "I don't know", the customer will feel frustrated, and it can damage the brand's image. It passes the message that the company is unprofessional and not prepared to deal with problems, leading the customer to doubt its expertise in the area.
Learning to listen is the basis for good customer service, and also to implement positive communication. You need to pay attention to what your customers have to say to understand their needs.
When talking to a customer, give them your full attention. In a physical store, it's easier to show that you are paying attention by using nonverbal signals, while on the telephone, in a live chat, or other digital communication channels you may have to emphasize this with words, so the person won't feel like talking alone.
You could say, for example, "If I understood well, you…", which helps you to make sure about what the customer wants. Keeping in mind that every interaction is unique, and each customer is different, listening to them will guide you to find the best solutions.
What you say can affect people and that isn't different in customer service, when you make compliments it's possible to attach good feelings in a conversation. But, the compliments must be sincere, not forced or robotic ones, the customer knows when it's something fake, and it won't look good in their eyes.
You could say, for example, "that's a good choice", "thank you for being so patient", "you are very kind". It depends on the situation, but try to show the customers that they are truly appreciated.
Giving sincere compliments is important also to build an engaging workplace, where employees feel stimulated and happy to be. It's fundamental to recognize your team members’ quality and let them know you value them.
When customers get in contact with your company, whether it's to know more about a product, to buy it, or to solve a problem, they should be given more than one option to decide what is best for them.
This helps, for example, when the customer asks for something that can't be done. Instead of using the word no, you can provide different options. If they are looking for a product that's unavailable at the moment, you may show similar ones or offer to notify them when the item gets back in stock, for instance.
Positive communication in customer service has a lot to do with transmitting to customers that you want to help them and that you are going to do what's in your capabilities to provide the best solution.
When you are able to communicate that, the customers' attitudes change because they can feel they are dealing with someone who cares about their needs. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, when you get in contact with a company, how would you like to be treated?
Empathy is essential to know what to say and choose the proper words. Positive communication will only be effective if the company and its employees are actually worried about customer satisfaction, and provide ways to solve their issues.
When you use positive communication, it's easier to build a trusting relationship with your customers. They will notice the difference in the tone of the conversation, which makes them see your company as an organization that is worried about its clients' well-being, gaining credibility.
Positive communication makes the whole difference to deal with crises. The way you frame a situation can cause the customer to leave completely frustrated, or, despite the problem, recognize your effort to provide the best solution, motivating them to come back in the future.
Being transparent and honest are pillars to being successful on that task, focusing on the good side doesn’t mean lying.
But, one thing is to say "your flight has been canceled", and another thing is "Your flight has been canceled, but I'm going to book you on the next one, which is going to depart in one hour. I'm really sorry for the inconvenience."
In both cases, the situation is bad and frustrating, but in one there is just bad news and no sign of any intent to help. While in the other one, the customer may look at the company with kinder eyes.
When you improve communication with customers in all the channels your company uses, the efficiency level gets higher. Positive language is also about a change of mindset, which is focusing on the solution and not on the problem. To be able to communicate that, your team will need to think that way as well.
This certainly helps to increase productivity, optimize customer service, and diminish complaints. If you can make clear how you can help a customer, and which options they have, it's easier for them to decide, and saves you time.
Positive communication is directly related to improving customer satisfaction rates for obvious reasons, it affects the way they are going to feel when talking to someone from your company.
Since the purpose is to offer a good experience and make customers leave a conversation feeling well, their satisfaction levels will grow.
When customers feel happy with the way a company's employees communicate with them, it helps to build a good impression of the brand, associating it with positive feelings.
By making them feel heard, seem, and important to your company, through positive communication, it's possible to build strong relationships and conquer loyal customers.
If the customers had a good experience through your communication channels, and even in the face of problems, received prompt answers with good solutions, it will help you to grow in sales. By feeling satisfied, your customers may recommend your company to other people, and become loyal to your brand.
To implement positive communication in customer service, it's essential to teach your employees about how they can do that.
This should be included in their training, but it's also important to invest in building a workplace culture that boosts their morale and helps them feel motivated, so they can transmit it to customers too.
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