Show customers you care by matching their tone.

When answering the phone, you probably do your best to sound positive and upbeat – an excellent default no doubt! We often think of these tones as being synonymous with great service, and they usually are, but some situations call for a different approach. If you sound happy for every single caller — no matter the circumstance — you risk coming across as robotic, providing the same cookie cutter experience to everyone.

Where’s the personal touch? Where’s the empathy?

Without visual cues like body language and gestures, tone of voice can be especially important over the phone and has the potential to help, or hinder, caller connections.

Think of a time when you called a business to complain and consider the response you received. If the person didn’t display any sense of urgency or if they didn’t sound concerned about your frustration, the words they were actually saying to you probably didn’t matter. On the other hand, when someone matches your tone, you start to feel that they are truly on your side.

Some people are tone-matching naturals and do it without thinking, while others experience true empathetic connections but have a hard time using voice to express it. Luckily, this is a skill anyone can learn. It just takes a little practice, so here are some tips to get started!

  • Listen. Simply listen to a caller’s tone and adopt the same. If they sound chipper, amp it up a little! If they’re having a hard day, a more serious tone might be appropriate. A slow talker will probably feel more comfortable if you take it down a notch too.
  • Exercise kindness. Be careful not to match frustration with frustration or anger with anger. An underlying tone of friendliness is a must no matter what state the caller is in.
  • Be wise with word choice. “Have a wonderful day!” is the perfect thing to say at the end of most calls, but to an unhappy caller that might sound trivializing. Instead thank them for calling, offer additional assistance, or tell them you hope their day turns around.

By tailoring your tone of voice for each caller, whether they’re happy or serious, in a hurry or relaxed, you’ll show that you understand their situation and that it matters to you. It’s a great way to give a personalized experience that’s sure to make your callers feel cared for and important.