Use of Linguistics in Customer Service

“How many languages are there in the world? How about 5 billion! Each of us talks, listens, and thinks in his/her own special language that has been shaped by our culture, experiences, profession, personality, mores and attitudes. The chances of us meeting someone else who talks the exact same language are remote”. – Anonymous

Taking the quote above into consideration, we can understand that the scientific study of language – Linguistics – is important. In a business scenario, companies are growing rapidly, which means that their customer base is increasing too. Technology is developing rapidly and is ‘bringing people across the globe closer’ – companies would not succeed unless they are able to ‘speak’ the language of every kind of customer base. This means delivering top class – swift, personalized, and effective responses to customers based on their demographics. The use of linguistics in customer service then, assumes inflated importance. The words, tone, style, and manner of conveying messages in any form is critical and would shape the kind of customer service a company is able to provide – leading to the success (or not) of a business.

Understanding the role of linguistics in customer service enables the teams responsible for it to evaluate customer interactions, prioritize them based on their urgency, and pass them on to the most relevant person / team, such that the responses are speedier and most aptly suited for the customer’s problem / query. This increases the efficiency of responses, while significantly reducing customer effort and wait times – two of the most important factors that contribute to enhanced service levels. The use of linguistics in customer service increases a company’s ability to understand customer behaviour, predict it for the future, and come up with proactive solutions to mould this behaviour to advantage.

Customer service is all about building, maintaining, and strengthening relationships between customers and a company. However, despite best efforts from both sides, there still seems to be a wide gap between what customers expect and what companies provide in terms of service. This growing gap is causing frustration in customers, who believe that companies do not ‘understand’ them and therefore decide to ‘switch’ to a company that seems better in this matter. This is where using linguistics in customer service can be of help – it would help to raise customer satisfaction levels by increased understanding and lead to more efficiency. There is no doubt that as customer bases expand, so do the challenges of understand them, responding to their increasing ‘digital’ queries in a customized manner, and offering personalized solutions to problems.

The fact is that the challenges of dealing efficiently with customers are unlikely to cease or ebb – hence companies and their customer service teams need to find smarter ways of dealing with them. Research shows that at least 80% of customer queries and business related data comes through in an unorganized manner and customers will use the terms, words, and language that they are most comfortable with and would send this through the channel of their choice. With so many channels and varying customer communication styles, it becomes even harder for a company to decide which route or team would be the most efficient in handling the various customer communiqués.

The use of linguistics in customer service plays a crucial role since one mismanaged communiqué or message to a customer could have serious repercussions – a company should be able to measure and evaluate every word it sends out. Every brand and the company have a culture and a vision. In order to convey this to customers, a company must ‘weigh its words’, thereby finding it easier to reflect a customer-centric approach. The smart use of linguistics in customer service, allows a company to have a significant and lasting impact on its customers and on the behaviour of its employees. When employees know and can feel the impact of great customer service on their own success, their desire to ‘impress customers’ would be stronger and genuine. As customers becoming happier, their demeanour would change and they would use customer satisfaction as a driving force to make their jobs pleasurable.

By using linguistics in customer service, representative could use the techniques to understand the context and meaning of what customer messages. This could result in a higher rate of first call resolutions given the better understanding and ability to respond knowledgeably and accurately. By using the help of linguistics analytics, queries would be routed to the most efficient and capable person to handle the queries, thereby lowering customer effort and the average wait time. With growing efficiency, representatives would not only be able to handle more queries in shorter periods, but would also ensure that customers leave the interaction, happier and satisfied with the responses.

By using the scientific approach of linguistics in customer service, a company would be able to broaden its understanding of different customer languages, words, and even slangs. When customers see the leeway they have in being able to interact in their own particular way, they are more likely to like and trust the company, thereby increasing loyalty. The company would be able to, increasingly, provide multi-language and personalized responses to each customer, thereby appearing more efficient and raising the bar on customer experiences with each interaction.

We know that it takes lot of effort, time, and resources to gain even a single customer and it takes quite a while before they become profitable for a company and even longer to become loyal. Hence, a company has to aim at retaining the customers it attracts, by whatever means possible. By using linguistics in customer service, the representatives would be able to analyse the ‘feelings’ and tone of voice of a specific query, and prioritise angry or negative ones to be dealt with first. These timely actions could change an angry and potentially ‘lost’ customer, to a happy and even loyal one. Proactive actions on the part of a company to make customers happy would always yield positive results. The same techniques could also help a company to proactively predict behaviour and patterns, and put solutions in place. Faster, efficient, and customized efforts are sure shot ways to keep customers with a company and turn them, over time, to brand advocates.

Introducing the use of linguistics in customer service does not entail a complete revamp of the existing service structure. It is simply a matter of getting the help of a professional for the software to introduce ‘linguistic’ abilities in the overall operations, which would significantly affect service and help the business to forge ahead. With so much competition, companies must evolve and incorporate innovative ways to serve their customers and carry out their service operations on a daily basis. Customers are unlikely to understand slovenly and shoddy service and therefore, it is the onus of a company to overcome the challenges of customer service. Applying the techniques used in linguistics, a company would be able to manage the challenges more efficiently by gaining a systemized understanding of what customers attempt to convey. This would mean that a company would no longer need to compromise on cost-effectiveness, speed, and quality of their responses to the customers, enabling their business to accelerate down the path of success and profitability.

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