Think back to your most recent encounter with a customer service representative. Did the experience leave you feeling frustrated and unheard? If so, you're not alone. On a positive note, recent research suggests that a seemingly small shift in customer service agents’ communication style can significantly improve how customers feel about their call center experience, as well as their level of engagement with brands.
Studies highlight that customers are more satisfied with agents who demonstrate effective listening skills by using concrete language (read the full article here). Linguistic concreteness involves the use of specific and tangible words, as opposed to abstract and vague language. For example, consider a customer requesting a refund for a shirt. A customer service agent might respond as follows:
Less Concrete Language:
"I can help you with that. You will receive your refund soon."
More Concrete Language:
"I can help you return your shirt. You will receive your money back soon."
To study how concrete language relates to customer satisfaction and spending, researchers examined the language used in real customer service calls and emails. Findings revealed that customers were more likely to rate interactions as helpful and spend more money if the agent used more concrete language.
To further validate the effectiveness of linguistic concreteness, researchers conducted a series of experiments. Participants were exposed to samples of customer service agent language, ranging in the degree to which their language was concrete and on-topic. Additionally, participants were asked questions to assess their satisfaction, willingness to make future purchases, and their perception of how well the agents listened to their needs. When agents’ language was more concrete, participants perceived agents as more attentive and understanding. Moreover, participants expressed higher levels of satisfaction and a greater willingness to make future purchases when agents used concrete language that was relevant to their needs. This suggests that using concrete language results in customers perceiving agents as better listeners, ultimately enabling agents to be more effective at influencing customer attitudes and intentions.
Call centers and customer service departments can utilize these findings to improve levels of customer satisfaction simply by incorporating linguistic concreteness into call scripts and training.
With hundreds of measures that provide insights into communication effectiveness, including a measure that captures linguistic concreteness, Receptiviti equips call centers and customer service departments with actionable insights that will improve agents' effectiveness and the satisfaction of customers. To learn more, contact us.