Why You Should Match the Tone of Your Caller

In the modern business world, more organizations are outsourcing their customer service needs and trusting virtual receptionists to handle queries and concerns. As a virtual receptionist, it’s important to match your tone to each caller. Read on to understand why.

It Helps You Personalize Your Calls

Receptionists were once taught to sound upbeat on the phone. In many cases, a positive tone is preferred. However, if you maintain this tone for all calls, no matter what the circumstances, you can sound robotic and impersonal.

“In call centre operations, it is vital that tonality matches – that is, is congruent with – the message contained within a script,” Nick Drake-Knight explained on the Call Center Helper blog. “We’ve all experienced the call centre operative who delivers his scripted phrase for the umpteenth time in an unenthusiastic tonal style that contradicts the scripted message offering excellence of service.”

When you listen to and match each caller’s tone, you’ll find yourself tuning in more to each call. This can stop the dreaded auto-pilot that plagues so many virtual receptionists. You’ll find your calls becoming more personalized. Every caller deserves to feel like an individual; matching caller tone can help you deliver that kind of customized service.

It Shows You’re Listening

You cannot match a caller’s tone without listening to the way he or she sounds, then modifying your own tone to match it. Therefore, the act of simply matching your tone shows your caller that you are listening.

All callers want to feel listened to. This is one of the largest motivators for picking up the phone and contacting an organization. When people feel listened to, they feel valued. They feel like what they have to say is important. You always want to make your callers feel listened to, and matching your tone is an easy way to achieve this.

It Shows Empathy

A positive tone can sound forced or even uncaring in certain circumstances, like when a customer has suffered a recent loss or had a poor experience with an organization. Matching your caller’s tone shows that you understand what the caller has experienced and empathize with his or her emotions.

If the caller is frustrated by an experience with the business, your urgent tone shows you are similarly frustrated and want to make it right. If a caller is sad, your own somber tone shows you understand how difficult his or her personal circumstances are. If the caller has a relaxed tone, being similarly laid-back will help the caller feel much more at ease than if your tone is more urgent.

When we feel people empathize with us, we usually find it easier to connect with them. When your caller feels he or she connects with you, opening up and sharing the information you need to really help is easier.

It Makes Up for the Lack of Visual Cues

Remember that when you’re a virtual receptionist, the words you say and the tone you say them with are the only ways you can communicate with callers. The person on the other end of the phone can’t see when you smile or when your face drops because you’ve received bad news. They cannot see the hand gestures you make or the professional way you’re dressed. When you can’t rely on visual cues to show you’re moved by the words your caller says, you need to rely on your words and tone.

It Builds Customer Loyalty

As a virtual receptionist, you have a responsibility to both the callers you speak to and to the company that’s employed your virtual receptionist firm. When you give great customer service using techniques like matching your caller’s tone, they are more likely to become loyal customers. Loyal customers are some of the most powerful assets any business has.

According to Accenture, two-thirds of American consumers spend more money with brands they feel loyal to. More than half of U.S. consumers recommend the brands they’re loyal to to their family members and friends. Twelve percent will also publicly endorse or defend brands they care about on social media. These statistics show loyal customers don’t just increase business revenue via direct spending. They can also help a business expand its customer base through recommendations and positive word-of-mouth.

Good customer service is so important for cultivating brand loyalty.

“The most effective way to increase brand loyalty is to increase customer service; the two go hand in hand,” Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR told Forbes. “The brands I am most loyal to are those I’ve consistently had great experience with, and in the rare case of a bad experience, it was handled swiftly and professionally.”

On the flipside, poor customer service can be a real turn-off. According to Ruby Newell-Legner’s “Understanding Customers,” 91 percent of consumers never use a business again after receiving poor customer service. Just as loyal consumers generate positive word-of-mouth for businesses, disgruntled consumers often generate negative publicity.

The White House Office of Consumer Affairs says most unhappy consumers tell between nine and 15 people about their bad experience. Roughly 13 percent of dissatisfied customers share their experience with more than 20 other people. That’s a lot of people getting a poor opinion of your company’s client if your customer service skills aren’t up to scratch.

You Can Still Maintain Friendliness at All Times

Matching tone is important, but this doesn’t always mean adopting the same tone. Rather, a tone that matches is one that’s congruent to the conversation.

You shouldn’t mimic a frustrated or angry tone. This can escalate the caller’s own emotions and make them feel even more frustrated and angry. Speaking with a serious tone that has some urgency indicates that you understand and empathize with the caller’s negative emotions without feeling frustrated or angry yourself. Your voice should always maintain friendliness to ensure callers have a positive experience speaking with you.

The way we communicate always goes beyond the words we say. Think carefully about each caller’s tone and try to match it to provide the best possible customer experience.