The Art of Positive Communication in Customer Service
Posted Aug 31, 2016 by Justyna Polaczyk, LiveChat

The Art of Positive Communication in Customer Service

Working in customer service is a tough job that requires lots of great interpersonal skills.

After all, customer service is about resolving problems, right? Your clients won’t contact you because they want to have a nice chat. They will want you to explain something, fix something or do something for them. Some of them will be upset.

That’s exactly why customer service agent needs a lot of intuition and empathy to solve their problems and avoid unpleasant situations.

The problem is, in many cases, customers request something that cannot be done. They might ask for something that’s against the policy or, sometimes, against common sense. In such situation you’ll have to tell them that’s impossible, hoping that they won’t burst with anger.

Luckily, there is one universal way helping to avoid conflicts, keep customers happy and deliver exceptional customer service.

It’s positive communication, the ability to convey messages, even negative ones, in a positive manner.

How to master positive language

Communication is not only about words and exchanging information. Words are a great part of the meaning of the message, but the tone we’re using and body language also matter.

Why are body language and tone are so important?

Because it’s more likely that the receiver will trust nonverbal forms of communication than the literal meaning of words.

According to Albert Mehrabian’s study, people trust tone and gestures (38% and 55%), rather than words (7%). It is known as the 7%-38%-55% rule and is one of the most important communication theories proving that body language can be more important than the actual words.

1. Body language (55%)

Imagine that you made a purchase with a delivery, but it turned out that your order was sent to somebody else. You’d expect a refund and an apology, right?

And now, imagine that there are two store clerks and both of them are apologizing to you. First of them is standing in front of you and he says “I’m very sorry it happened.” They sustaine the eye contact, their facial expressions show they engaged in the conversation, they use open gestures. My guess is that you’d accept the apology.

But what would happen if the other said “I’m very sorry that happened,” but they would be sprawled in a chair and texting at the same time? I don’t know how about you, but I would be really mad to see something like that.

It’s a very clear proof that people would rather analyze your gestures than words. Therefore here are a couple of tips on how to control your body and send positive signals to customers:

  1. Always smile when you greet or talk to customers. Even if you are speaking on phone and customers can’t see you, it makes a huge difference in your voice tone and they will hear you smiling.
  2. Maintain eye contact.
  3. Sit or stand up straight when talking with the customer.
  4. Don’t cross your arms or legs.
  5. Remember to relax your shoulders.

The most important and difficult part of it is to always try to think positive. Negative thoughts come through in a body language!

2. Tone of voice (38%)

According to Vertical Response study, 65% of customers prefer a casual tone to a formal one.

Using friendly tone in neutral situations is much more appreciated by customers. It makes the whole customer service experience more personal and improves the relationship with the audience.

Another great thing about using the right tone of voice is that even if you have to say something that might not please a customer, your tone will help you to convince the customer that you’re sorry and calm them down.

Of course, we need to assess when being casual is just too casual.

Instead of using colloquial words, it’s more safe to stick to natural language. Also, remember to tailor your tone to the situation. It’s not a good idea to start an informal chat when the customer complains. If a case is sensitive, if customer is upset, if you have to apologize or deny customer’s request, you should rather go formal.

3. Positive customer service words (7%)

It’s simple to be positive when you can process customers’ requests. Things get complicated when customer asks you for something you cannot do because:

  • you don’t know how to do it.
  • you’re not allowed to do it.
  • it’s temporarily impossible to do it.

In such situation you will have to inform them that their request cannot be fulfilled and you have to do it in a positive way, so a customer doesn’t get upset.

The most important rule of verbal communication is to forget about “no,” “can’t” and “don’t” as these are the worst words that can be said to a customer.

So, for example, if you have to tell your customer that a red dress is unavailable, as them if they would like to check it out in a different color. If they want it to be red, you can find out a similar model and suggest checking it. It’s all about you showing to the customer that you’re willing to help.

So, here’s what you can say.

right and wrong customer service

Download and print this reminder to avoid being short of words

It makes a huge difference!

How to communicate effectively

There are a couple of rules you have to have in mind when you want to communicate effectively. Such things like being attentive, active listening, letting your speaker finish, are essential for every conversation, not just between a customer and a representative.

It’s also very important to use the right words and avoid these pesky negative ones so you sound like you want to help your speaker. You should always sound helpful, so if you cannot do what customer asks you to do, suggest an alternative solution.

Use the right tone of voice and if not necessary, try to avoid being too formal (no one likes to talk to robots) and control your body. People pay more attention to nonverbal communication than you think!

A great thing about positive communication is that every person can master it. And once you do it, your customers will be able to forget about bad customer service.


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About The Author
Justyna Polaczyk is a content writer at LiveChat. She shares her experience and knowledge about live chat software, customer service and e-commerce. She's also the author of Business Sidekick podcast.