Use the Same Voice
When a business sounds the same in all its communications (eg: email templates, website content, staff profiles, social media, marketing, flyers, etc.) it creates a consistent experience for clients. This is because at every point of interaction they know exactly who the business is, what it does and what it stands for, which reinforces the business relationship with them in a very positive way.
Think of it this way. If you meet someone for the first time and you really connect with them (because of their individual style and approach) then you’ll begin to feel comfortable and may even want to become friends. However, if the next time you meet them they interact with you very differently, then you’re probably going to wonder who they really are and may even begin to mistrust them and feel uncertain about pursuing a friendship. This is the sort of impression you can unknowingly create with clients if the written and verbal communications in your business vary at different points in the buying cycle. For example, a client may be attracted to the friendly and fun approach on a business’s social media pages but finds that once they become a customer the approach becomes more formal. Experiences like this can create a sense of disconnect because the type of business they initially connected with (and were attracted to) seems to have changed and it may be the deciding factor for them going elsewhere or referring others. It’s also the type of feedback that’s unlikely to turn up on a survey form or in reviews, as it may be difficult to articulate the feeling that’s being created (as opposed to something tangible that went wrong with the product or service). Consequently the only indicator you may have is that they didn’t come back or dropped off sometime during the process.
Unfortunately it can be very easy to accumulate communication items that vary in the way they sound because over time there may be input from different people, items may be adapted from other businesses or a business may update specific areas in isolation from everything else. This is why periodically it makes good sense to review everything and check that it sounds the same. Here’s how to do it:
Review all written material
Ask questions such as: does each item sound the same, is it one style of writing or many, is it in first person or third person or are some items short and to the point and others long and wordy? If you do have multiple language styles choose which one fits your business or maybe it’s time to completely overhaul everything so that it conveys your brand in the right way. Once you’ve completed a review and chosen a particular style update everything accordingly (eg: client email templates, website, staff profiles, social media, marketing, flyers etc.). Some legal items such as contracts and disclaimers will require a set type of language (which clients will expect) but these can be easily identified and introduced as these types of items (which won’t create a disconnect as a result).
Review your verbal communications
How everyone in your business speaks to clients is an important area to review, especially when it comes to how the phone is answered and the content of the answering machine message. As this is one of the first impressions clients may have of your business it needs to be consistent with everything else. For example, if all your written communications aim to convey a message of efficiency then a phone message that says “We’ll get back to you when we’re free” isn’t going to match as well as one that states an exact turnaround time for responding to their call (eg: “We will return your call within the hour”). Verbal communications like this can be dependent on the individual style of the person delivering the message so with some items (such as answering the phone, informing clients about a process or addressing a client complaint) you may want to consider developing appropriately worded scripts for everyone to follow.
Speak to your staff
If you have staff in your business then it’s important to inform them of any changes that are being made so they understand how much these items impact on client perceptions and therefore why these changes are being made. Once you’ve shared this with them check if they know of any other communication items that need to be reviewed. As they’re probably working with different templates (due to the nature of their roles) they may highlight something you’ve missed or something they’ve developed personally that will also need reviewing.
Once the above is completed the chosen items will need to be implemented into your systems and processes, old copies deleted (so they’re not accidentally used again) and any new scripts may need to be practised. It also makes good sense to monitor that these items are being used on an ongoing basis, otherwise old copies may surface again or new items may be developed and implemented without checking first that they sound the same as everything else.
When you use the same voice in all your communications it creates a clear and consistent message about who and what your business is (ie: your brand) which will help to cement the relationship you have with present and future clients. Ensuring consistency in the style of language that likely attracted people to you in the first place is key to retaining them and making them feel confident that anyone they refer to you will enjoy the same experience, so make sure that checking this area is part of your regular business practises.
Photo credit: iStock.com/RyanKing999