How to Use Tone of Voice & Volume to Communicate with a Customer

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  • 0:03 It's How You Say It
  • 1:30 Tone of Voice
  • 3:25 Volume
  • 4:21 Pace
  • 5:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

How you say it may be more important than what you say! In this lesson, you'll learn more about using tone of voice, volume, inflection, and pace in handling customer calls in a call center.

It's How You Say It

You enter the break room at work to find your friend and co-worker sitting at a table. Her arms are crossed, her facial expression is unpleasant, and her body language screams, ''Don't come any closer.'' You do what any good colleague would do and ask, ''Is everything OK?'' She responds that she's fine, but the way she says it (and how she looks) tells you that she's anything but fine.

Have you ever heard the saying, ''It's not what you say; it's how you say it?'' That basically means that regardless of the words that come out of your mouth, the way you deliver them is a lot more important.

Tone of voice, inflection, volume, and pace of speech are that much more important when you're speaking to someone over the phone. Because they cannot see you, customers will make judgments about your attitude, your willingness to help, and even your personality based on the way in which you speak.

Psychologist and professor Dr. Albert Mehrabian understood the importance of how we use our voices. He created the 7-38-55 Rule which states, in part, that when communicating with 100% success, the actual words used (7%) are not as important as the way we say something (38%) or our body language (55%).

In this lesson, we're going to talk more about tone of voice, volume, pace, and inflection in a call center environment.

Tone of Voice

Tone of voice is all about the attitude behind what you're saying. Your voice doesn't change, but the way you speak to someone does. If you're angry, you may be curt; if you're happy, your voice may ooze joy. Regardless, customer service professionals have a duty to put their personal feelings behind them and use a tone of voice that is friendly, sincere, and professional for all callers. This is what keeps customers calm and engaged. But, how do you accomplish this?

First, use positive language. That means eliminating words and phrases like ''We can't,'' and ''You need to'' from your vocabulary and focusing on phrases like ''I can'' and ''We will.''

Second, remember you are talking to another human being. You are not a robot and shouldn't sound like one, even if you have a script to follow. Sincerity and empathy sound like, ''Let me see what I can do to fix your problem, Mr. Jones.'' Think about how you would want to be spoken to in the same situation.

Third, keep it casual and friendly, but assess each situation separately. An irate customer might view your casual nature as an insult to their problems. Friendliness, however, never goes out of style.

Remember that your inflection, the natural rise and fall in your voice, shows your customer that you're listening and engaged in their problem. Your tone of voice should rise and fall naturally, as if you're talking to a friend. This is important in helping to place importance on certain terms or ideas.

If you need a refresher on improving your own tone, remember that engaged listening and being genuine in your desire to help are good places to start. Smiling, even though customers cannot see you, can also positively impact your mood and tone. If things get tense, take a moment to breathe, which can calm you and keep your tone even and consistent.


No one wants to be yelled at, and the volume with which you speak to someone can either calm a situation or inflame it. It can be difficult to refrain from raising your own voice if the customer is speaking loudly out of frustration. However, did you know you can control the conversation simply by the volume you use?

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