When people interact with us, there are a number of cues that affect the way our conversations are perceived by the listener/viewer. Two of these cues are the inflection of our voices and our choice of words. Do we come across as authoritative, disgruntled, sincere, etc.?

As Emma Snider writes for HubSpot:

Happy ears aren’t such a good thing in business. But happy voice? A very good thing. Even the slightest error in phrasing can put a prospect off — which means salespeople spend a lot of time thinking about the particular words they use to pitch their products and converse with buyers. But no matter how hard a rep tries to weed out all of the overtly negative or unnecessary terms in their vocabulary, there are always going to be a few that fly under the radar. Even though certain words don’t seem insidious on the surface, they can strike prospects the wrong way. Offputting words = frowning prospects. And frowning prospects don’t sign contracts.”

“What are some of these deal-destroying words? Kayako has identified such 10 verbal culprits in this SlideShare, and provided happier suggestions that will make both salesperson and buyer smile. Turn those frowns (and perhaps any negative sales trends) upside down.”



17 Replies to “Do YOU Have a Happy Voice?”

  1. I agree that “talking happy” really makes an impact on your customer service experience. I recently had a problem with my debit card and had to call the bank multiple times, each time getting a different representative. It was easy to tell just from the way they worded their first sentence if the person was going to be helpful and nice, or unwilling and cranky. Even if the person isn’t necessarily trying to come off a certain way, the words they use definitely effect how you feel while talking to them. I actually noticed that one representative said to me, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” It made me feel like she cared about helping to solve my problem. It’s interesting how subtle word changes can really effect your overall experience.

  2. There are few things that dissuade customers more than a dry, monotonous sales associate. However, i have had experiences where the sales associates were TOO friendly, almost to the point were it drove me out of the store. Their speech was in fact so unusually positive and peppy, that it seemed almost manufactured. They must keep their tone professional, while still instilling comfort and support to the customer.

    1. Tom, you took the words right out of my mouth. I worked in commission based sales myself, and I just want to state that although it pays to be polite and professional, the important part was to get across that you are an actual human being, not some corporate drone. We were instructed to greet you at the door, and would work one on one with clients. Often times, I would crack a joke about the weather, such as, “hey, check out that looovely weather we’re having!” *makes pointed gesture towards the snowstorm outside* That would break the ice, and I would exchange pleasantries. We got to know each other as human beings first, customer-sales second. The result was a better experience, at least in my opinion, for both the customer and myself. It raised my morale as an employee, and earned the company customers who came back.

      1. I want to add, just because I am going to talk about your kids, or cars or movies doesn’t mean I can’t sell the products. If you asked, I was delighted to point out the features of any of our products, and in the first few months, if I didn’t know, I’d ask one of the managers, or an associate more experienced. It became apparent, in the time I worked there that in order to succeed at that workplace, you had to not just sell the product, but also yourself. Any time any of us salespeople sold (marketed) the product instead of establishing rapport with the customers first, you as an employee were not any different from any other bloke, with the infamous “retail smile.”

        Let’s try to avoid that, shall we?

  3. I never had given much thought to the words I say when interacting with customers or when conversing with employees at a store. Although now that I think about it, I’d much rather hear someone say “Sure thing” instead of “Actually.” Word choice can exhibit either a good or bad vibe. A positive salesperson has a better chance at selling their product, whereas the negative salesman will most likely fail in their endeavors. Vocabulary is a major factor in defining a successful salesperson.

  4. I agree with this concept one hundred percent! As a consumer and also an employee with experience in customers service (my parents used to own a ‘Life is good,’ store, which prides itself on providing top notch, friendly, and accessional customers service), there have been many instances where I have been turned off by the language of an employee at a store, and consequently, decided to leave rather than deal with their negativity. There are times where leaving a negative shopping environment and venturing elsewhere seems more beneficial than dealing with off-putting employees. With this being said, associates must make a conscious effort to balance their attitude in a way that appears helpful to the customer, but isn’t too aggressive in order to create a comfortable experience.

  5. As an employee in retail, I could not agree more with this article! Managers are constantly reminding the employees that speaking to customers is our most important task and how we say things is crucial for the success of the store. Not only do I have to make sure I am smiling and bubbly at all times, but I have to make sure my tone of voice sounds genuinely welcoming as well as making sure I am verbally giving the customer all the care/attention he or she might need. I can say from experience, it is amazing how easily an uninterested tone of voice or choice of words can turn people off!

  6. When I was working in retail we were told to speak with enthusiasm and greet all of our customers. Most of the time when I greeted a customer they would not respond and just give a dirty look. My old district manager would make us greet a customer even if we were ringing people up on the register and if we weren’t peppy or happy she would send us home for the day. She was too friendly though and always touched the customers and had a fake smile on. You could tell it was phony and the customers most of the time would leave. So I do agree with this article on being happy and talking with a nice voice when dealing with customers, but one should not take it to the extreme.

  7. Since I’ve worked at food restaurants, I know how important it is to be polite and phrase your words wisely. Similar to the example given, if a customer feels disrespected, they could choose to eat else where. I tend to have a happy voice and face so I don’t have to worry about watching my tone and facial expression as others might have to do.

  8. As a consumer, I agree with the article. When I walk into a store I want the sales associates to present themselves and speak in a certain matter. They are trying to sell their products and if they speak in a negatively or rude way I am more then likely to go else where to shop from now on. Speaking and presentation is the most important part for the survival of a company. In todays world their is a lot of competition between businesses and a lot of options for customers. This makes the sales associate must find the perfect balance between being helpful and not being over baring to a consumer.

  9. I found this slideshow to be very true and extremely useful. I work in a retail pharmacy and agree that if you want to get a point across or if you know that the patient may not like what you have to say, the best way to do it is to be “happy” about it. Putting a positive swing on the things that you are trying to say will help keeping your customers happy. I find that I already use a bunch of these points that were mentioned in the slideshow but now I will definitely try to the use the rest of these points as well.

  10. I agree that “talking happy” goes a long way. I work at a library and an office and saying the right thing a certain way makes the customers feel better if there is something we are unable to help them with. I try to look at it as if I was in their shoes. How would I want to be spoken to? By putting a positive tone in your voice along with a smile, customers will walk away happy even if you were unable to help them. They feel comfortable and will be willing to come back because they feel like you want to help them and care.

  11. All you need to do is put yourself in the customer shoes you will understand what the customer will be looking for.
    No doubt that a upbeat voice makes a difference even when you are dealing with big customer issues.

  12. I always smile when I talk to other people. And my friends told me that my smile really makes them feel comfortable. But in the phone conversation, people can’t see my face but only hear my voices. And people always feel the change of my emotions when my tone changes. So it is useful to learn how to manage my tone and make other people feel comfortable.

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