Watch your tone!

A couple of recent communications have left me with a poor opinion of the senders and their businesses and it’s all because of the tone of the content.

Is this the way to thank a customer spending over £1000 in your business, ‘We acknowledge receipt of your booking, together with payment….’? I think not. Contrast it with the acknowledgement for a similar booking, ‘I am very pleased to confirm your booking arriving on *** and departing on ***. I should be grateful if you would acknowledge this email so that I know it has been received.’

The content isn’t significantly different but the tone definitely is. The second company thanks me for my business and cares enough about my booking to check that I have received their email. Interestingly that company had confirmed everything within two working days. The first took a week and the less than effusive thanks were in the very last sentence of the letter. Which property do you think I’m most enthusiastic about visiting?

The second communication which upset me was a request to unsubscribe a contact from my mailing list. Don’t get me wrong, I totally accept anyone’s right to unsubscribe and whilst I’m disappointed to lose anyone I understand the need to manage our inboxes. However it was the aggressive tone that put my back up, ‘What does it take to get you to unsubscribe me! This is SPAM.’ Actually all it takes is to click the unsubscribe button which he clearly hadn’t done (I checked). People only get on to my mailing list when I meet them or when they subscribe so I don’t spam and there is always an unsubscribe link in a bulk email.

This chap is in business locally to me and has a service which could be of interest to me or my clients. I am also very well connected in the local business community and could introduce him to lots of other potential clients but I won’t!  I won’t because his tone was so rude. I could not trust him to be nice to my clients so I will recommend his competitors who value the relationship they have with me. I have probably now formed a very unfair picture of his business but that’s his problem not mine.

The way we communicate says an enormous amount about us and our business. People will judge us not just by what we say but also by the way we say things. Their actions will be governed by the impression we create with our communications. So next time you put something in words make sure you consider the impression those words will create on your reader. Take a deep breath before you fire something off in anger. Look at your communication from the customer’s point of view, does your tone meet their expectation? A customer booking a holiday property wants you to show that you understand how important an annual holiday is. A customer buying a gravestone wants empathy for their loss. A customer with a complaint wants you to show that their feedback matters to you.

Something like 38% of a message is conveyed in the tone, and the tone is just as important in the written word as it is in speech. Have you made a decision based on the tone of the writer? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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