What Impact Do Communication Styles Have on Customer Service?

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Customers expect a unified tone when speaking with different company representatives.
Customers expect a unified tone when speaking with different company representatives. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

When customers call your business with a question or complaint, the representative conveys much more information about the company than she speaks. Employees standing behind your counter facilitating transactions with customers also transmit information about your company’s attitudes and standards. Customer service plays a key role in most businesses, so it’s helpful to determine the potential impact of your workers' different communication styles.

Completing Tasks

At its simplest and most effective, communication impacts customer service by enabling tasks to be completed efficiently and with positive results. Cashiers ring up merchandise, letting customers know how much they need to pay to complete the transaction. Customer service representatives field questions about products, accounts or policy changes on the telephone so that customers get the information they need. Task-focused communication styles don’t emphasize building rapport with customers; instead, employees use communication as a tool to efficiently address customer needs.

Interaction

Another impact communication has on customer service relates to customer interaction. Although businesses want to quickly process customer wants and needs, it helps to build positive relationships with customers over time. Interaction-based communication styles emphasize the relationship between customers and company representatives. Employees may chat with customers, share opinions about various products, ask for feedback and engage in friendly conversation. This can be less efficient, since it takes longer to complete tasks, but the customer service has a more personal, positive approach.

Establishing Motive

Customer service can also be impacted by communication styles establishing motive. Clients may discern that a business has a cooperative, competitive or independent motive and adjust their behaviors accordingly. Communication styles that establish an independent motive alert customers about a businesses’ indifference to their needs, inciting customers to take advantage of the business. For example, ignoring customers might encourage theft. Competitive communication styles make customers feel that they might be taken advantage of, spurring combative or defensive behavior. Establish cooperative motives by working with customers to identify their needs and suggest mutually beneficial solutions.

Establishing Tone

Different communication styles can also affect the tone of customer service. Company representatives speaking in abrupt, curt or condescending tones might intimidate customers, leading them to believe that customer service is not a priority for the business. Timid or hesitant tones can impact customer service negatively, leading customers to believe that they’re dealing with unqualified or untrained representatives. Warm, courteous tones welcome customers to the business, establishing a strong foundation for addressing customer service needs.

Unified vs. Erratic

Companies should keep in mind that customers may interact with more than one representative from the businesses. This can have a negative impact on customer service when wildly different communication styles displayed by employees lead customers to believe that the company is disorganized or unprofessional. Different personalities are always expected, but there should be a standard level of formality or informality evident through customer service. If one employee answers the phone by saying, “How ya doin’?” while another says, “Good evening, and welcome to our fine establishment,” customers may think your company lacks unity.

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