Put The Words In

‘Actions speak louder than words’ is something we hear a lot. What we don’t talk about enough is how words influence actions. When it comes to contact centres, language is often the driving force of customer decisions, the variable in growing success rates, and the limb on which everyone leans to make the job good. It’s worth us becoming fluent in its subtle superpowers.

Here at Adexchange, we understand that language is a complex and nuanced animal. But it’s also something which serves us best when kept simple. By token of that very simplicity, here’s our cheat sheet on how to command it within a contact centre.

1) Stay Positive

The Theory: As humans, we like being able to say ‘yes’. It’s a generally positive, empowering and assertive word to wrap our tongues around. As contact centres, we should encourage those affirmatives into the conversation. It can be as simple as asking our customers to confirm their postcode: by giving them something to say yes to, we’re aligning ourselves with them. However small, being on the same page with the same goals is powerful for a business relationship.

The Action: It’s worth scaling through our LiveChat scripts, our portal forms, and our IVR maps, to check in on the questions we’re asking our customers. How often are we seeking the word ‘yes’ versus ‘no’? How many verbs are in their negative form? If we’re stuck in the negative, can we turn those sentences and questions on their heads? Yes, we reckon so.

2) Simple says it best

The Theory: Simplicity is quick, classy and honest. For some customers, the simpler the better because they’re multi-tasking, skimming or short on time. But for other customers, simplicity is a necessity. The average reading age of the UK population is 9 years old (See-a-voice.org). For some people, English might not even be their first language, and complex wording is a deal-breaker when it comes to being able to communicate with companies. For others, they might struggle with their eyesight or hearing. Let’s not add to these obstacles. Superfluous words and dense phrasing can kill customer relationships.

The Action: From the FAQs on our website to the scripts for our chatbots and our email correspondence with our customers, can we strip back our content to the essential message? Often thinking how we’d say something rather than write it, can distil things down nicely. Done right, we can always lose or simplify words without losing tone or meaning. In fact, losing the fluff can help shine a light on these things, which can help success rates of things like calls to action.

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3) Jargon sucks

The Theory: When Nash in the pub says “I need to touch base with Chicago after taking the lead on this, but I’m getting constant push-back”, do we feel sorry for him? Yes, because he’s being a moron. And we feel bad that we want him to leave so we can have a normal conversation. Convoluted business speak is, as a general rule, irritating and opaque. It doesn’t make friends or retain customers. Sorry Nash.

The Action: Even though we’re industry professionals, we should avoid using industry terms in customer interactions. Human is a much more popular language.

4) Specific words help

The Theory: Whilst there’s no blueprint for any one message, there are certain words which are good to keep in our back pockets as call centres. They’re universal words which immediately resound with most people in a positive way.

The Action: Have a few of these helpful words to put in the comms pepper grinder:

Now’ is a strong one for conveying a sense of immediacy to the customer – who might be concerned their problem is being filed for attention two weeks on Friday.

Always’ is a good way of impressing the convenience and support of 24/7 online chat.

Change’ is a word which consoles an upset customer that something different is being done.

Saying ‘something’ instead of ‘anything’ invites helpful specific rather than reluctant vague conversations with customers.

Willing’ is a word which helps the customers feel in control; let’s ask them if they’re willing to do something, rather than tell them to. A suggestion is often received more positively than an instruction (Call Centre Helper)


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5) Be practical and emotional

The Theory: Whilst we should strip language down to its most simple form, we must remember that expressing emotional intelligence is a fundamental essential. But what we can happily kiss goodbye, is disingenuous go-to phrases that we find ourselves saying for the sake of it.

The Action: If a customer is upset, we must leave room for reassuring words and active verbs which validate and solve their concerns such as “We agree, let’s…”. But on the flip side, we shouldn’t have to say something like “your time is important to us”. That should be obvious by our quality of service. And heavens to Betsy we won’t be promising anyone that “we’re giving it 110%”, because that’s mathematically insane and makes us sound as bad as Nash. Truth is, sometimes actions can speak louder than words, and sometimes a few extra words really aid an action. An easy litmus test for whether to say something or not is: are we being genuine?

Hands up, words are tricky things. Sometimes we want more, sometimes we want less of them. But at the heart of them is this powerful kernel: subtle changes in their lengths, meanings and order can transform the entire performance of our channels and touchpoints. It’s daunting, but also hugely freeing to know that we can optimise our business by tweaking our current content. Instead of investing in expensive new kit or relaunching entire platforms, the power of words is proof that simple changes win.

If you want to keep life even simpler for your business, give us a ring. We love playing the word police. We can help your words work for you.

Nick Herbert

Nick Herbert

Managing Director Nick has been our Managing Director for over 15 years, but before joining Adexchange was a BBC journalist and radio presenter; both of which rely on clarity of communication, detail and efficiency.
Nick Herbert

Nick Herbert

Managing Director Nick has been our Managing Director for over 15 years, but before joining Adexchange was a BBC journalist and radio presenter; both of which rely on clarity of communication, detail and efficiency.