Why tone and voice is so important

Our Hotpoint dishwasher of 10 years has finally given up the ghost. Fortunately, we’d taken out extended warranty, so a replacement is on its way.

Having ordered the new one, we got a text within hours:

Hotpoint welcomes your Dishwasher order. Your Journey starts here and our teams will be with you until completion, providing updates along your journey.

I don’t know where to start with this. It’s all kinds of wrong and highlights the apparent difficulty that so many large brands have in creating a consistent and credible tone and voice.

To begin with, why is ‘Hotpoint’ doing the welcoming? Shouldn’t it be ‘we’, quite aside of the dodgy use of ‘welcome’.

And then there’s the tiresome, hackneyed use of ‘journey’… I’m only waiting for a dishwasher to be delivered, for God’s sake.

The thing is, I understand the broad intention of Hotpoint. Providing a friendly, customer-centric buying experience is crucial to how you build up advocacy and repeat business.

I’m not expecting an email saying merely ‘Delivery tomorrow. Thanks’

But buying a dishwasher is – 99% of the time – a functional transaction. You want something inoffensive that works.

And that should be reflected in how they talk to their customers – of course, if it was an entire kitchen replacement, things would be different.

Here are 3 things to consider when analysing your company’s tone and voice.

1) Your tone and voice has to be faithful to your company values
You can’t just walk in one morning and choose three words that will represent how you communicate.

So many brands want to be ‘funny’ or ‘entertaining’, despite being an insurance firm or building suppliers.

Be clear on your company’s values and it will be easier to decide on how you should speak.

2) Your voice should remain the same: it’s your tone that needs to alter
We all use the same voice to communicate – what changes is the tone we use in different situations.

If you’re responding to an emergency, you would speaking in a different way to how you’d announce a special offer.

3) Match your language to your tone
Part of tone and voice is using the correct language. You can be as friendly as you want, but if you stilted language, the sentiment gets lost.

Equally, not all transactions require emotional hand-holding; customers want simple facts communicated politely yet clearly.

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