Do you ever think about subtext? I know, it’s probably not on up there on your top ten things to think about. I learned a lot about subtext when I studied acting back in college. It’s that whole concept that what you’re saying and what you’re communicating can be two different things. It’s been said that most of what you communicate is through body language, but when customer service happens on the phone, all you’ve got is your voice – what you say and how you say it.
In the last coffee time links, I pointed to Lori’s post about "sighing". One of the things that I’ve learned from analyzing countless phone calls through the years is that you can’t make a sigh sound positive. Sighing communicates a negative to the customer on the other end of the line, who will hear any number of negative messages in the CSR’s subtext:
- "I don’t want to be here"
- "I’m frustrated"
- "Something’s not going right"
- "My computer’s not working"
- "I hate my job"
- "I could care less about you and your problem"
A sigh is a little thing, but the negative subtext it communicates can be a big thing in the mind of the customer as she walks away.