Have you ever contacted the customer support of a company only to discover that it doesn’t feel like you’re talking to the same folks? It’s really, really frustrating. And it will cost you customers.
Research has shown that customers who perceive a significant difference between brand identity and customer support will develop stronger feelings of mistrust, even if the customer support experience isn’t necessarily bad. Customers want to feel like they are talking to the same people they saw on television or read about in a magazine. If your support team is not reflecting the same image, then you have a problem.
Conveying that brand personality to customers seeking support is just as important as conveying it to the audience in the marketplace; In fact, keeping your voice consistent across sales, marketing, and support can help deepen the customer experience and thus create loyalty.
So how do you do align customer support with your brand identity? Here are 4 steps for carrying over your brand’s voice to customer support.
Look to the Company Values
This is the first place to start when establishing or understanding your brand’s voice. The values that your company wants to embody will largely affect how you communicate with customers.
For example: Does your company value honesty and humor? If so, make sure your macros are peppered with humor and transparency. Hire and train agents who have great personalities and value honesty in the workplace.
Zappos is an excellent example of core values that provide a framework for their amazing customer support. They seek to “WOW” their customers, have fun, and be creative. Reading through these values gives you a good foundation for how an interaction with their support team might go.
Define Your Tone of Voice
Ever heard the phrase “It’s not what you say but how you say it?” That’s tone of voice. Simply put, your tone of voice is how you express, and it’s hugely important in customer support.
A good way to approach this is to ask this question: “How would the ideal employee that represents my company communicate with customers?” The answer to that question is the starting place for integrating tone into customer support. Consider what language that person would use, and how he or she would represent company values through their words. Take that information and consider how it can be used to shape your macros.
Answer the Question: What Makes You Different?
Marketing pros will tell you that one of the best ways to shine as a brand is to find the point of difference that sets you apart from the competition. Communicating that message clearly is key, and it doesn’t stop with marketing. It extends into customer support.
Think about what defines your support team and makes it different from the competition. Does this align with your values and company goals? Make sure it does. Once you know what makes your support team special, communicate it. Make sure it’s reflected in the way you interact with customers. If customers know about your amazing service, they’ll be far more likely to become a returning customer.
Set Communication Guidelines
A brand identity is great, but it’s only effective when consistently represented by everyone. Each individual on your support team needs to be an expert in your brand identity and know how to communicate this to customers. That’s why a style guide is crucially important. It provides consistency and accuracy to every person who interacts with customers, which protects your brand from erosion. Here are some things to consider when creating the style guide:
- Level of formality or informality in communication
- Use of technical terms and industry jargon
- Use of colloquialisms and slang
- Use of emojis, GIFs, and other graphics
- Specific words or constructions that should be encouraged or avoided
- Grammar – Commas, semicolons, prepositions…you know, all the good stuff!
- Level of transparency when dealing with an issue
Instilling brand identity within your customer support team is not an easy task, but it’s an important one. There’s nobody in your company who interacts with your customers more than your support agents, so make sure they represent you right. Your customers and your brand will thank you for it.
Also published on Medium.