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Basics of “Reading” Customers: Tone of Voice

Tone of Voice - Reading a customer' mood by interpreting their tone of voice is a dodgy thing. It requires a lot of intuition that is developed through practice and experience. Those who have lasting relationships in their personal lives may be better at this than those without long relationships. In intimate relationships this is an essential skill to understanding and communicating with your partner. In business it could be seen as simply good customer service or it could be seen as a valuable aspect of a relationship.

A good place to start developing your ability to “read” tone of voice is to be aware of how you are sending messages in the tone of your voice.

The other day I was in a bookstore cueing at the cash wrap ready to make a purchase. The clerk at the counter spent a huge amount of time helping a single customer track down a missing CD that she ordered. My patience grew shorter and shorter as time passed and the cue got longer behind me. Here was a clerk following the letter of the procedure while the spirit of good service was ignored. Finally, through no action of the clerk a manager appeared at the counter and proceeded to assist the clerk with the non-sale. Finally, she began to assist those in the cue. I was sending the message of my displeasure through body language and tone of voice. The manager simply ignored these signals and proceeded with the sales script. I can't stand it when a sales person ignores my obvious disinterest or anger and asks me if I want to apply for their membership card, a credit card or worse give them my email address. Is it not obvious that an angered customer isn't about to join a club or apply for your stores credit card? Resolve my displeasure and provide a relevant persuasive explanation and maybe I'd consider it.

Sales people are often trained to follow the procedure or script in all circumstances. Rarely are they trained to “read” the customer, determine their mood, respond or interact appropriately, build a rapport, present a viable and relevant sales proposition and convert. Twice the energy? You bet. Worth the effort? Absolutely. Better customer relationships and long term customer interest and potential loyalty.

In all your interactions today, think about your tone of voice and just what you are or are not communicating.

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September 27, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter | Permalink

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