Ensuring that the way you communicate with customers is thoughtful, meaningful, and delightful can make a world of difference. Every conversation is a chance to represent (or misrepresent) your business. What you say and how you say it will influence your relationships and determine how your brand is perceived. 

So, what makes for an effective interaction? The first step is to avoid formalizing them to the point where you begin to sound less like a human and more like a marketing robot. Authenticity is key. Woth that in mind, we can move on to the next points. Here’s how to talk to your customers. 

Find Your Voice

A good start is to define your company’s collective voice. It should be in keeping with the image you want to portray. Part of why Apple store reps are so persuasive is their warmth and politeness. The tech giant is generally intimate and friendly in their interactions with customers, and it clearly works. 

What’s important here is balance. You don’t want your team to sound like they’re reading from a script. They also shouldn’t come across as fake or worse – creepy. Aim for the sweet spot where your tone can be friendly while maintaining a sense of professionalism. 

Keep it Short

In today’s attention-deficit world, customers aren’t interested in long-winded monologues and 1,000-word emails. Even the most spectacular message will have little effect if it’s crammed into a wall of text. 

Your customer service interactions should be clear and concise. Incorporating visual content and linking to knowledgebase articles in your emails will help you get the point across in fewer sentences. The goal is to ensure that all of the customer’s problems are solved and they feel as though they’re truly heard. 

On a similar note, your responses should be prioritized based on their urgency, so that they’re addressed in a timely manner. Having saved replies that simply need to be edited to include the customer’s name and their issue will help. 

Use Positive Language

Certain words and phrases are prone to misinterpretation and may cause accidental dissension. This includes negative language like “I can’t” or “I’m afraid that” – these phrases aren’t conducive to moving the conversation forward. They can make a customer feel as though it’s up to them to solve the problem they’re presenting. 

Positive language, on the other hand, puts the focus on the solution and assures the customer that their time isn’t being wasted. One way to make use of it is to emphasize that the interaction is a team effort. You can do this with words like “we can” and “let’s” in place of “I need to” and “you’ll have to.” 

Address by Name

People feel good when their name is mentioned. Use that to your advantage during interactions. 

When you can’t, start with something friendly like “Hey there” and not some form of corporate droning like “Dear sir/madam.” That is, when it’s appropriate. If the customer or circumstances are more formal, then it would probably be better to hold back on the LMAOs. It’s also important to be careful with jokes, as they’re easily misinterpreted. 

Knowing who you’re dealing with and mirroring them is an art worth mastering. 

Give Clear Directions

Whenever you can reduce the perceived effort and do something for a customer, do it. This is essential to a winning customer service. But if it’s up to them to carry out a task, especially when it involves a long set of instructions, be sure to order it chronologically using a numbered list or bullet points. 

For example, let’s say the customer wants to know how to turn on the dark mode feature in your app. Your directions can look as follows:

  1. Open Settings (the gear icon on the top right of the screen)
  2. Choose “Appearance” 
  3. Scroll to the bottom and select “Enable Dark Mode” 

Avoid technical language and jargon when possible. The simpler, the better. 

Once the customer has successfully resolved their problem, it’s a good idea to end by offering to help further. Remember to use positive language. Don’t ask if they have any other problems. Ask instead if there’s anything else you can do for them. 

Apologize Appropriately

Not every request can be fulfilled. Not every rule can be bent. Sometimes, you can’t say yes. But that doesn’t mean you have to end the interaction with an unhappy customer that doesn’t plan on returning. 

Provide a sincere apology that’s appropriately worded. You’re not taking responsibility for something you aren’t at fault for. Instead, you’re acknowledging their frustration and showing that you understand how it’s a problem. Use first-person pronouns in your messages, such as by saying, “I know how frustrating this can be.” 

Aim to end things on a high note with a solution or the best alternative. If there’s something you don’t know, inform the customer that you’ll be in touch within a certain amount of time or that you’ll reassign them to the right person. 

Align Your Objective

Showing that you’re working with the customer’s best interests in mind achieves several things. This includes reducing their perceived effort and providing a clearer explanation of how you’re going to satisfy their request. Here’s how you can structure your message:

  • Describe what you’ve done.
  • Tell them what you’re going to do.
  • Explain how it will solve their problem.
  • Sympathize with their concerns if necessary.

The first two points are particularly useful when you need to tell the customer that you’ve already tried something to no avail and you’re looking for (or have) another way forward. Draw their attention to an end instead of the means. 

Say Thanks

Your customers – even the less-than-happy ones – are the lifeblood of your business. An open and attentive mind will reveal a wealth of valuable information in every interaction. For that, your customers deserve some appreciation. Be sure to thank them for their support, be it with a simple message or something more tangible.

There’s much to unpack here. But with a bit of time and effort, you and your team can become experts at talking to customers. As long as you stick to a human approach, the rest will come naturally.