The change in tone in customer care

Categories Thoughts on business

I did a piece on the basis of customer care, it’s here in case you missed it.

I want to touch on the way that your customer care talks to the customers they service. Again, if we are not able to get the basics right we can’t expect to give great customer experiences.

I’ve noticed a significant change in the way that customers expect to be spoken to. I attribute this to the growth of instances messaging. In the past, customers could send long winded emails and expected long, complicated emails back. This has changed. If I use myself as an example, I get tons of emails through my personal box… a whole lot of spam. My emails are now more of a FYI and I don’t like long winded nonsense. If I send an email to a company, I expect a short, sharp reply back. Much like I would receive a Whatsapp message.

This also applies to voice interactions. Customers are becoming increasingly frustrated with complicated jargon. They want to be spoken to like a human, not like an expert of the subject matter. Banking and insurance are notoriously guilty of this. Long scripts and templated responses have become a crutch because:

A – It protects the company, because agents can’t let anything slip that would be of financial risk

B – It takes away the guesswork for agents and possibly the training time and/or skill level

“This call is recorded for quality purposes” sound familiar? Well, in the background companies have teams listening to theses calls and reading your emails to ensure that agents are saying the correct stuff. This is called quality assurance and is really important because it identifies risk and gaps in process. My concern is that companies are not focusing on quality from a customer’s point of view. Shouldn’t companies be trying to make life easy for customers and then look for ways of covering themselves (just a thought). A company that does this well is King Price insurance, I really like the way that they simplify things for the customer.  

I’m not opposed to some form of templated response, because there are still steps and processes that could be copied and pasted for ease of use. What I do have a problem with is the robotic tone that can easily be created by scripting answers. It’s a very thin line, you want an agent to be professional and accurate, but still seem human. You want to give them the best chance to engage, but not be informal.


Here are some of the things that I’d always suggest:

  • Agents, or any customer facing staff need to know their shit inside out and not rely on a manual that they don’t understand. I can’t iterate this enough. They can “go off script” because they are equipped to help the customer.
  • Always look to shorten. If you can say it in four words, not five, do it.
  • Get your copywriters (marketing folk) to go through everything and asked them to humanise everything
  • Set a yard stick for tone. The one that works for me is the grandparent example. I always tell agents – talk to a customer like you would talk to your grandparents. Casual but not informal, simply but not condescending, caring but not babying.
  • Avoid jargon in team meetings and catch ups – jargon in the office will lead to jargon to a customer
  • Check the tone of interactions and challenge the agents constantly.

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