How to Master Tone of Voice in Customer Service

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Summer Browne
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Customer service has become a priority for companies. Why? Because it enables businesses to retain and appease unhappy customers. It also helps satisfied customers become superfans. It allows for upselling and cross-selling. Plus, it is a great way to gather data and feedback to gain a competitive advantage. With so much at stake, it must not be overlooked!

But having the right customer service system in place won’t do any good if it isn’t done right. Tone of voice and manner of expressing yourself must be in line with the brand. But what exactly is tone of voice, and why is it so important?

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What Is Tone of Voice In Customer Service?

Tone of voice doesn’t just relate to the words or location of communication. But includes the way the words are organized and the communication is made. It consists of the volume of the voice, how words are spaced and paced, where the emphasis is put on words, and other considerations.

The right tone of voice can calm an irate customer and avert tension. It can generate a positive outlook and dissuade negativity. But it doesn’t stop there. If you harness the correct tone of voice, it will support and carry the brand’s voice. It makes it more recognizable and cuts through the overwhelming amount of content out there. Maybe even making the brand more lovable!

There are lots of facts and figures circulating about what percentage of communication is verbal and what percentage isn’t. According to one study, 38% of communication is tone of voice. There is some disagreement surrounding this. Regardless, it highlights the major role our tone has in communication.

Tone of voice matters because it expresses the character of your business. Plus, it carries authority. Get it wrong, and you could alienate a whole segment of the audience you are trying to keep or attract. It helps to build trust, establish relationships, and influence emotions.

Tone of Voice in Communication – An Explainer Video

Why Is It Difficult to Find the Right Tone of Voice?

Getting the right tone of voice in customer service can be difficult, especially on social media. Social media is friendly, fun, and informal. But customer service can use traditional language and be repetitive and boring. 

Customer service agents and reps deal with similar issues day in and day out. The repetitive style of the work can mean they end up stuck in a rut. Communication can become stale and unengaging. 

Getting the right tone of voice in customer service can be difficult, especially on social media.

Apologizing can sometimes become par for the course. But the apologies can become insincere and show a lack of sympathy, isolating customers. 

Greetings are also a daily chore. Instead of engaging with each person as a unique individual, you can begin to feel it is just another person you have to deal with. Negativity can seep into the tone of communication, whether it be chat, email, or phone.

Knowing the issues can go a long way to fixing the problems! 

Ways to Improve Tone of Voice with Examples

Be Positive 

Having the mindset that every conversation can maintain a positive tone will help to start conversations in a positive way. And hopefully, keep conversations on track. This genuine flow will also help the person receiving the communication to feel comfortable. And they will sense your willingness to help. So how can it be done? 

Use The Appropriate Tone 

Deciding on whether the communication should be casual or formal isn’t as easy to get right as it might seem. Because while you may assume formal should be used for an older age group and casual for a younger age group. But taking a look at the data on this provides interesting insights. Based on a study by Software Advice, they found that 65% of people across all age groups prefer a casual tone!

So how can you know if your customer wants to hear a casual or formal tone? The key to knowing is in the request that the customer has. If the request is going to be denied by customer service agents, then they prefer a formal tone. Why? Because being too casual when saying ‘no’ implies you aren’t taking the request seriously. So, a general rule of thumb is to be formal when you say no, to prevent misunderstandings. And casual when you grant requests.

80% say when customer service solves a problem they feel more connected to the brand
Infographic source:

Show Understanding, Empathy and Compassion

Poor customer service is the biggest cause of disloyalty! 

If you want to stop the churn and keep your customers, don’t put your focus on customer satisfaction, high spending, or trying to delight your customers. Instead, improve your customer service!

Do this by learning to listen and doing your best to find a solution. Customers often buy products to fix a pain point in their lift. Continuing that process in your customer service and relieving their pain works. Don’t focus on explaining the company position or problem; deal with their problem.

Don’t patronize customers or make them feel stupid by telling them to check the help article. Instead, synopsize the article for them and then direct them to it. Apologize when it is necessary and make sure it is sincere. And always look to find a way to strengthen the relationship instead of weakening it.

Reason why people leave a brand
Reasons why people leave a brand.

Keep Your Cool

People can be frustrated when they make contact with customer service. They have complaints and questions. And it can be overwhelming. But don’t be defensive; it is a surefire way to start an argument! Here is what you can do to help:

  • Find out the reason for the anger or frustration
  • Listen and wait for the customer to finish what they are saying 
  • Don’t take the aggression aimed at you personally 
  • Offer something to the customer if possible
  • Find and provide a solution 
  • Increase loyalty by making some contact after the event
  • Always be professional

Tone of Voice When Using Different Communication Channels 

The location of communication can affect the tone of voice you use. 

Customer Service Phone Tone Tips

It is important to be courteous and respectful regardless of the customer or complaint. But using an insincere phone voice can come off rude. 

So, what can you do? Match the customer’s tone of voice. Don’t be overly friendly if someone is expressing their irritation. The tone of voice should acknowledge the irritation. Avoid cliches and overly obvious scripting. Adjust the pitch, pace, and speed at which you speak. 

Check that your customers understand what you are saying and clarify anything they don’t understand. This also allows customers to ask further questions. And you can help them, making them even happier customers.

Email And Social Media Customer Service Tips

When a customer communicates via online channels, we may all assume it is easier to reply to and understand. But that is only true if you take the time to read messages carefully. Skimming an email’s message or detecting a comment’s intention may result in misunderstandings. 

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Ask yourself questions as you read the written communication. What are the issues, what is the biggest part of the problem, and how can I keep them happy and satisfied? Think about the answers to these questions and how you would like to receive a response.

Communicate clearly and simply. Use the active voice rather than the passive. Use punctuation correctly and check your grammar. Emojis can be useful to portray the right feelings. But use them wisely. And always show gratitude for their communication!

An example of a response to a complaint via social media.
An example of a response to a complaint via social media.


There is a lot to take into consideration to improve your customer service. And it is an important area of your business. The simplest way to make improvements is by mastering tone of voice.

If you aren’t sure exactly what direction to take your brand’s tone of voice in, take some inspiration from other brands.

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