All are involved
There is an acceptance in some areas that only the front-liner in business needs to be aware of, and practice good customer service skills. As the many successful stalwarts in business would have you know, this is not true. All who spend their working hours in an organization, regardless at which section of the business pyramid they operate—be they leader or led—they all depend on customers to keep that business alive and profitable. They all should, therefore, be aware of Voice Quality as an important tool in the customer service toolkit.
The voice is like a gem
Craig Harrison in his article on “The Voice of Customer Service” wrote that “Your voice is the most multifaceted customer service tool in your toolkit.” The word ‘multifaceted’ as it is used here, certainly likens the voice to a cut gem with many faces. It is for this reason, then, that we need to know how best to use this tool, one that offers so much potential for success as we communicate with customers, internal and external; and as we communicate during our personal encounters.
The elements of a good communication style
In the realm of effective communication—not merely communication, mind you, but effective communication, the type that produces a positive effect—we have within the voice all the elements that work together for success. Clarity, pitch, volume, rate and tone, will all work together, at your insistence, to avoid problems and give the voice its ability to communicate effectively. Put them into practice and soon you will witness the results of your efforts.
Practice is the operative word here
Let’s begin the practice in this session then, with Clarity. Articulate well. Enunciate. Do not mumble. Say your words using the following to full advantage: the teeth, the lips, the tip of the tongue, and then there is the lower jaw which should move freely as you speak. To avoid rigidity, you may also practice tongue-twisters. Try this one:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked,
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
Tongue twisters help in speech clarity, but they need to be repeated often in order to have an effect on your delivery. So practice until you can say these lines with clarity and at a moderate rate that is easily understood. According to Katie Schwartz, President of Business Speech Improvement in North Carolina, “One of the most important things you can do to improve the clarity of your message is to slow down.” The rate must be, however, not so slow that you become boring. It must be just right and fitting for the occasion; but do slow down.
Listen and be your own judge
With all this operating in your mind, begin by breathing deeply, using abdominal muscles—no chest muscles, please. Then, in a comfortably erect posture, stand, having selected a passage from a favorite book. Read it aloud.
Now, read it again; but this time, tape your voice as you read, making good use of the suggestions mentioned here. Remember to smile. This truly makes a difference to your tone. Now listen, and be your own critic.