How formal language ruins social media customer support

Faith Ocampo Published on May 12, 2016 Last updated on September 6, 2021

Using a conversational tone on social media can invite customers to talk to you more.

social media customer support hand typing on laptop talking to customer

The beauty and hazard of multichannel customer support is that it allows brands to reach customers through various means. It’s a beautiful thing because it helps strengthen the relationship between the two. At the same time, however, it can be considered hazardous or risky, as each platform requires a unique approachโ€”something that brands too often forget.

For example, when it comes to live chat, agents must be trained to use crisp and clear sentences that can easily be digested by the recipients. For emails, however, you need to observe proper formatting using the right greeting and closing remarks. But what are the language guidelines for social media?

Interacting with customers on social networking websites is actually trickier. If we trace their history, websites like Facebook and Twitter weren’t exactly made for businesses. Rather, they were originally intended to enrich personal connections between friends and family members, making online interactions relaxed and personal. However, now that brands are using them to start conversations with their customers, the line between keeping up a professional appearance and projecting a friendly image is beginning to blur.

Why formal language must be avoided

business executives choosing social media customer service languages

Businesses are faced with the challenge of balancing out the tone they use (informal vs formal) without destroying the company branding. And without understanding the purpose of social media as a customer support channel, it becomes impossible to settle on a consistent communication style.

When brands take themselves to Facebook, Twitter, or other social platforms, customer expectations change. Because people use these sites for personal relationships, they expect to also connect with brands on a more meaningful, if not truly personal, level. When they chat with you or comment on your posts, for example, they want responses that reflect your true personality.

Therefore, using a relaxed tone can actually work to your advantage. It’s the first step to close any gap that may be preventing your customers from connecting with you. The language you use can help you toughen up your company branding by allowing people to gain a transparent view of what makes you unique.

Keeping conversations friendly

So forget formal language when communicating with consumers on social media and remember instead that this platform is made for human-to-human communication. But if you’re really that worried about coming off as rude or impolite, just imagine that you’re talking to a friend you respect. If you visualize the customer as someone you want to listen to, talk to, and build a long-term relationship with, all your interactions with them will naturally be smoother.

smiling social media customer service agent in call center using laptop

Also, avoid rehearsed or scripted lines. Instead of adhering to these standard phrases, let your natural voice flow through. Aside from fostering customers’ trust, this technique invites them to talk to you more. Over time, therefore, your relationship with your target audience becomes stronger.

Lastly, remember that you don’t need to impress customers with big words. In fact, this can drive customers away or create a communication barrier between the two of you. For instance, formal terms such as “inconvenience” and “investigate” sound nicer and warmer when replaced with their equivalents “trouble” and “look into,” respectively. They’re also much easier to understand because these are our everyday words.

Making the language consistent

Whether your social media customer support is delivered by your in-house team or an outsourcing service provider, you need to ensure that all your agents are using the same voice and style across and within each social platform. A consistent language reinforces the company branding and levels off the customers’ expectations, therefore making your brand more memorable.

Improve your customer support game with Open Access BPO’s time-tested multichannel solutions. We’ll help you increase brand awareness and trust when you send us a message about your business needs.

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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