Ways with Words and how they impact customer experience and service culture

words impact service culture

Do you remember the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?

Won’t they?

Ask any experienced marketing copywriter and they’ll be able to tell you just how powerful words can be in creating both positive and negative emotions, and prompting people to take notice, put up barriers or take action.

In today’s video in my mini video series on the A-Z of creating a service culture (we are up to the letter W now) I talk about the importance of your choice of words, and how some can create a positive or negative emotion; not from a marketing perspective, but how they might impact how your customers and/or the team members feel and how this gets reflected in your customers’ experience and service culture.

 

Building Rapport

People generally like (and feel more comfortable with) people like themselves. Using similar words, terminology and expressions helps build rapport with customers and team members alike. So, listen out for the terminology others use and try to use their terms rather than yours.

(This extends to showing common interests, common goals and common values.  So, assuming you share these let them know, as these can help to bond you together.  A relationship with a customer or team member will be a lot easier if you share something you have in common.)

 

Adding Value

Do you remember how Gerald Ratner described the jewellery he sold in his (up till then successful) jewellery stores?

The words you use to describe your products and services will have a big impact on how people perceive them, and the value they place on them.

Describing something as ‘just…’ or ‘only…’ can work to play down the price, but when you’re describing a product or service you have the impact of diminishing its value. Instead, use powerful words which will create emotional appeal (bearing in mind that most buying decisions are based more on emotions than logic). Such as: gorgeous, luxurious, delicious, creamy, warming.

Teach your team to use such descriptions for your products and services. That doesn’t mean to say they need a script, but get them to identify what – for them – best describes that product or service, a description they are comfortable with when explaining to a customer.

 

Dealing with disagreements

Whether it’s handling complaints, dealing with poor performance, or simply having to say no to a customer or a team member, your choice of words can have a big impact. Some are like red rags to a bull. Here are a few examples we so often hear…

Yes, but… As soon as anyone hears the word ‘but’ they know they are about to be contradicted. See: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/yes-but/

It’s our policy – no one cares about your policies, they just want to get what they want (or the next best thing).

You can’t, you have to, you must – people don’t like being told what to do; offer suggestions, recommendations, if you do X you’ll get Y (Y being a solution or something of benefit to them).

That’s not my job, that’s not our department, that’s not my responsibility.  Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do – even if this is simply helping to put them through to the appropriate person or department.

 

Blinded by science

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using industry jargon, but if your customer or team member is not familiar with this jargon, it can make them feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or patronised.

Don’t dumb down if you don’t need to, but just beware of using terms others either simply don’t understand or could be misinterpreted.

 

Common courtesies

Ensure your greetings are sincere; there’s a huge difference between a scripted, bland and robotic “how are you today, sir? ” without even bothering to look up or listen to the answer, and being greeted with a sunny smile and a cheerful “Good morning, Mr Smith! We haven’t seen you for a while; welcome back!”

Using someone’s name when you greet them makes them feel more valued. However, never shorten their name unless they ask you to. So, Mr Smith doesn’t become Fred, Andrew doesn’t become Andy or Deborah doesn’t become Debbie unless that’s what they request.

Never under estimate the value of a heartfelt “thank you” be that to a customer, team member, supplier or colleague.

 

If you only do one thing

Over the next 24 hours take stock of the words and language you use and listen the words your team use.

Ask: do these create a positive emotion or leave people with a negative impression, and how well does the outcome reflect the service culture you want to create.

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