When we think of our voices and how we sound we naturally assume that we sound trustworthy and upright. But research into the subject casts our voices, and therefore ourselves and the manner in which we are seen by those we interact with, in a very different light and has had the effect of making many people question the impression of themselves that they are actually conveying over the phone.
A recent article published in the Guardian, ‘Is your voice trustworthy, engaging or soothing to strangers?’ by David Cox, a researcher of neuropsychiatric disorders at Cambridge University and a regular contributor to notable publications such as the New York Times, offers wonderful insights into this frequently overlooked subject that will surely make you question the impression that you convey of yourself when speaking on the telephone.
Of the many fascinating areas of the subject he explores in this lengthy and in-depth article published on ‘World Voice Day’ of this year, April 16, a little known day dedicated to the ‘phenomenon of the human voice’, is the technology the US company Jobaline has created which is able to predict how a person’s voice can affect the feelings of the listener.
This is truly remarkable technology and it not only highlights the leaps and bounds that voice recognition technology has come in recent years – researchers have found it boasts a remarkable 75% accuracy rate – but also how little we are actually aware of the impressions that we make upon others. We may know so much about so many things but it’s remarkable how little we actually know about ourselves.
The Human Voice and Its Five Elements
Our voices are remarkable, unique if you will in a number of ways, and are comprised of five distinct elements – tone, inflection, pitch, rate, and volume.
Here’s a quick look at each.
Tone – Believed to be the most important aspect of the human voice when conveying an impression, tone expresses attitude more so than any other element.
Inflection – Used to highlight certain phrases and words to give them greater weight by stressing their importance, inflection is an important aspect of the voice to master.
Pitch – Capable of conveying a powerful impression in any situation, lower pitched voices are considered soothing while high pitched voices are found abrasive.
Rate – The cadence or speed of the human voice, rate is important because it aids or impedes understanding on the part of the listener.
Volume – The easiest element of the human voice to control, volume refers to how loudly or softly a person speaks.
It is important to understand that the human voice reflects attitude and that although your voice contains specific characteristics that make it uniquely yours and yours alone, there exists an ideal range that helps your voice to come across as ‘trustworthy, engaging, and soothing.’ As David Cox wrote in his informative article, “Having the right voice signature for a situation largely comes down to the extent to which you can control different aspects of your voice.”
What Your Voice Says about You on the Phone
It has been proven through research and studies, along with numerous enlightening surveys, that a customer’s impression of a customer representative, and the company that they work for, their products and services, and so on and so on, are heavily influenced, if not entirely so, by their over the phone interactions.
This therefore not only includes what is said during the conversation, but how it is said. This makes good voice skills, i.e. the mastering of the five elements of the human voice, particularly important to possess for anyone in a customer service role who frequently communicates with customers on the phone.
Generally speaking, humans tend to share many similarities with regard to the way in which they perceive the voices of others. A 2012 poll conducted at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, shows what most studies on the subject have found, that people overwhelmingly prefer voices characterised by low pitches rather than high pitches. This means voices that are soothing, resonant and perhaps even melodious. These findings go a long way in explaining why male voices are used far more predominantly in television and radio advertising than those of females.
However, this should not be mistaken as a claim that women aren’t capable of mastering control of the five elements of the human voice, nor should it be taken as a statement claiming that female voices aren’t inherently listenable either. These findings do, however, offer constructive food for thought, so to speak, and further highlight the importance of voice skill training for customer service representatives.
The Importance of Sounding Trustworthy on the Phone
It isn’t just what is said but the way that it’s said. As humans, and therefore rather emotional creatures at the best of times, we have a tendency to relate better to friendly, trustworthy tones of voice than voices with tones that are angry, dull, frustrated, or monotonous.
Moreover, as negative impressions conveyed by voices that could be described in terms like those abovementioned only serve to jeopardise the image of the company the customer service representative works for, it is of particular importance that anyone responsible for over the phone communications with customers is able to consistently convey an impression of friendliness and trustworthiness.
As one of the first call centres established in the United Kingdom, Message Direct knows the ins and outs of telephone answering, etiquette, and the importance of mastering voice skills better than most. Our team of experienced, Dorset-based receptionists have received specialised voice skill training that empowers them to engage customers over the phone, and convey the all-important impression of trustworthiness at all times.
If you’d like to convey a more professional impression of your company to customers calling to enquire about your products or services, thereby maximising the results of your marketing efforts that aim to drive new enquiries to your phone lines, Message Direct can certainly help. Give us a call today to put your best voice forward.