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The Art of Being Pleasant: How to not sound like a grump when speaking to people who need your help

The Art of Being Pleasant

Have you ever thought about what it means to be pleasant? If you look up the word “pleasantry” you’ll see that it’s described as: “an inconsequential remark made as part of a polite conversation.”

When I first saw this definition, I was surprised that a pleasantry was categorized as inconsequential. If this is true, then why does it always feel so nice when you have an exchange with someone and they speak to you like an old friend? The word inconsequential just didn’t sit right with me.

Working with customers has taught me many things about communication. Most importantly, the tone you use is just as crucial as finding a timely solution for customer. How do you set an appropriate tone — in this great age of email, chat, or social support — where you’re more than likely several thousands of miles away from your customer, in a different timezone? Often they have never spoken to you before. Sometimes, they may even be cranky. Here’s where not-so-inconsequential pleasantries can really elevate your interaction with them, and how they perceive their support experience. Basic, polite, and affirming phrases can go a very long way.

“Hello”

“Hey there!”

“How are you today?”

“Hope you are well”

“Great question!”

“I hope your week has been good so far”

“It was great chatting with you today”

“I love the way you described that”

“That’s so helpful, thanks for the extra detail about the issue”

“Have a great weekend”

These are warm, simple phrases that can brighten up any conversation with even the most frustrated customer, and take less than 5 seconds to type out  (even less if you are using software to predict your commonly used phrases). They are human, they are conversational, and most importantly; they speak in a way that you would to your friends and family, or when helping a stranger face to face. They are the digital equivalent of a smiling face (emojis help too.) When you set your tone in this way, you give a clear message to customers that you care. You’re right there with them, and no matter what they need help with, you are ready to assist. In a world of never-ending support tickets, and fast-response KPIs, it can be very easy to provide quick answers that ultimately lack that extra level of attention — to forget how to be simply pleasant throughout your entire conversation.

In my mind, being pleasant, regardless of the frequency you speak to your customer, puts you in a great position to wow their socks off. Modern tools that we have at our disposal make this even easier! You can use Macros in Desk, or you could use software like TextExpander, for an arsenal of polite conversation starters, all within a few typed letters. Other tools that we use are Slack and Chatter (from our parent company Salesforce), two places where our team communicates. We share good, funny, and quirky feedback from our customers. This is a great way to look forward to customer feedback, and be able to get a smile from what our customers feel about the service we have given them.

What do you think? Do you skip on the pleasantries, and head right to the solution? Maybe you’re someone who hates it when someone you don’t know asks “how are you?”. Let us know.

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