As divided as we are on whether pineapple is an acceptable pizza topping, there is one thing that’s common to us all: we all have to write for our jobs. Emails, reports, agendas for meetings, summaries after them. We write on a number of occasions in the average working day. And we write them differently for different audiences.
We don’t want to sound too casual, we don’t want our group to lose track of what the meeting is for. We definitely don’t want to annoy the customer we’re talking to! What we aim for when we write at work is usually to write according to the task at hand.
It’s usually difficult to pull this off while maintaining your distinct tone of voice in your written communications, instead of that of a nondescript support agent or coworker.
We might want to start rethinking the need for robotic perfection in writing, though, especially in support. Turns out, you don’t need to be professional to the point of somber in order to be thought of as a business that knows what it’s doing. Believe it or not, customers actually want your corporation to be approachable and human instead of icy and mechanical.
Less-than-perfect communications in business, both internal and external, might just be more effective in achieving the same goals. In this post, we’ll explore many such benefits of writing with personality.
Pique public interest in your business
Writing can be very effective in drumming up interest in your organization. There are many customer support stories to serve as testament to this idea: remember the Netflix Star Trek-themed support interaction? Or the beloved legend of the Amazon support rep who pretended to be Thor? Written customer communications present a unique opportunity for intrigue – because you likely won’t get away with, “Hello, you’ve reached Thor” on a support phone call. With written communications, people are more patient, more willing to loosen up and less likely to think they’ve dialed the number to a Norse frat house.
Using that opportunity to show personality and human agency can pique public interest in your business. Generating public interest in your business by writing for it can work just as well as full-fledged marketing and PR projects, at a fraction of the cost.
Communications in support are generally one-to-one, but this is where taking the advice of the wise support team over at Cards Against Humanity can help you: “Pretend every single email you write will be put all over the Internet. Sometimes it really will!”
Make every support experience something to remember
As a customer, having to contact support is usually yet another thing to remember and make time for in your packed day. A laid-back agent who genuinely cares about your complaint and feels free to be their own casual, whimsical self in interactions would be welcome relief from the usual strictness of business communication. Your support experience would be better, because it would involve real conversations.
Not every agent or every organization can impersonate fictional characters to achieve this, though. Every business will have to experiment with writing to find the right tone to match their brand and resonate with their customers. How far can you go, and what should you avoid?
The answer is different for every company, but the general idea is to keep interactions as personal and human as possible. Some good examples would be this Jack Threads support conversation, or this one between Lego and seven-year-old Luka. Not to mention this thank-you note by Jim Shuky’s Auto. Inspiration is everywhere!
If you’re still hesitant to branch out into less-structured writing for support, consider that common assumptions about customer expectations from support may not be absolute. Support at the party game company Cards Against Humanity, for example, is as wicked as their game is: a fake support number is given out that gets you nowhere, and agents swear, joke, tease and doodle in support emails.
This rather extreme example only goes to show that businesses largely underestimate customers’ ability to take a joke. As long as you resolve complaints to satisfaction, a little fun and banter doesn’t hurt. On the contrary, customers are pleasantly surprised to speak with someone with a sense of humor.
Motivate your team and boost productivity
Without the tension of carefully tiptoeing around her customer, I’m sure my agent would be happier in her job too. It’s well-known that taking short breaks at work can help improve productivity, but breaks from redundant norms can also be equally (if not more) refreshing. Teachers and learners do this all the time in using humor, partaking in quirky activities and making startling statements during lessons to maximize quality of learning.
Organizations already do this on some level. Boomerang’s support team once mentioned a fun writing challenge they used, in their secret sauce to support story – a beer for every time they could slip the word ‘’murica’ into an email during the 4th of July weekend. It could be well worth it to explore unconventional writing as a way to let off some steam and practice more lighthearted, sustainable productivity.
All of this can, however, backfire easily if you don’t get your basics right – prompt replies, fast routing and resolution time still need to be top priority in support. When you’ve got the fundamentals covered, some personality can make a big difference, and win you a lot of customer love.
In support, emphasis has always been placed on personalizing service for the customer and tailoring support to improve the experience. However, it’s important also that the interaction is personal to begin with – you wouldn’t hold yourself back or sound cold and robotic with a friend, and you shouldn’t with your customer either.
We’ve had fun doing it ourselves: to start with, we’ve been quoting Shakespeare in our posts for the past couple of weeks to commemorate his birthday, and if you’re subscribed to the Freshdesk blog, we sure hope you liked what we wrote for your latest digest.
Don’t forget to tell us what challenges you’re taking on, and what you’d like to see us try. As for us, our revels now are ended – promise!