How Do You “Dress” Your Conversation?

Business casual I had a heart-to-heat with a manager the other day. He was pulling his hair out because of a long-term employee who refused to alter the way they spoke to customers on the phone. This particular company expects a high degree of professionalism in their customer conversations, in keeping with their brand. There are a handful of service elements that the company expects them to include in every conversation, when it's applicable. They also give their associates a lot of latitude to convey these elements in their own conversational style.

The particular associate we were discussing on this day was one who flatly refused to include some of the basic service expectations. "I have a pleasant voice. I do my job. I resolve the issue. I don't need to do any more than that." That is the associates attitude.

I started thinking about that particular line of reasoning. Because this particular company has a very professional reputation, their employees are expected to dress professionally. It's really no different than most companies. The associate in question would not dare to show up for work in cargo shorts and a t-shirt. This associate would not argue with his manager saying "The cargo shorts and t-shirt are clean. They cover the naughty bits. I can do my job just as effectively in them. I don't need to wear khakis and a button down to do my job. I''m simply not going to follow the dress code."

Yet, that's exactly the same argument that's being made about the expectations on the phone. The company is simply asking their employees to "dress" their conversation in a professional manner. They want customers to receive a conversation that equates to a professional, albeit business casual, experience. The associate wants to have a cargo shorts and t-shirt conversation and call it "good enough."

How are your customer conversations dressed?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickrand kenyee

  2 comments for “How Do You “Dress” Your Conversation?

  1. February 24, 2009 at 1:26 am

    I like this term: dressing your conversation. If clothes become a man, then his words become his reputation or character. 🙂

  2. April 8, 2009 at 1:52 am

    I think we should try to keep this about professional guidance rather than about personal opinions.
    Jason Price
    jprice@walkersresearch.com
    http://www.walkersresearch.com/emaillists.asp

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