Tone Of Voice Guide

What is tone of voice, anyways?

Tone of voice is how you chose to communicate your company’s core values through interactions with your customers. It is the words you chose to use, the way you want your customers to perceive you.

In my talk on support during WordCamp US this year, I touched on this subject and explained why you should have such a guide. I’d like to expand on what I said, and give you a couple more resources to use.

Why is tone of voice important?

Communicating synchronously across all your platforms – like your newsletter, Facebook page, and helpdesk, to name a few – is important. But why is that?

If you use the same colors across the previously mentioned platforms, it makes sense if you do the same with your communication, right? This is where your tone of voice guide comes in.

It underlines your company culture

Having a solid, written down guide that describes your company’s way of communicating shows the world: this is who we are. We might be many within this company, but we are all human and working towards a similar goal.

It literally pays off

Your customers feel more comfortable when they know they can expect the same treatment from you every time they get in touch. This makes it more likely for you to make a repeat sale.

It makes hiring new agents easier

When you are in need of a new support engineer, having a written tone of voice guide makes it easier for you to determine if a candidate fits your style. Can they keep up the tone you set?

It also makes training that much easier. If you have an existing team, writing down what your tone is can help point everyone in the same direction.

Questions to ask yourself

It’s easier that you might think to set up your own guide. What it requires is your time and energy – to sit down during the development process instead of trying to fix things after releasing your product.

Tone of voice questions
One of the slides in my WordCamp US talk about support. Find all slides and the transcript here.

There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself (and your team) in order to determine your tone:

  • Which words will we absolutely not use?
  • In three keywords, how do we describe our tone?
  • How do we want our customers to feel?
  • How do we handle disputes?
  • How do we tell customers ‘no’?
  • What are our core values?
  • Are we formal, or informal?
  • How do we use jargon and lingo?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: if you were buying from your company, how would you like to be treated? That’s what you should be writing down.

At the end of this article you can find a few more resources to use when setting up your own guide.

Consider publishing your guide

MailChimp’s wonderful tone guide is open to the public, as is Buffer’s. It helps them be clear to everyone what their values are.

I personally think it would be a great thing to see more companies in the WordPress world to show that they care about the relationship between developers and end users. If you are in the process of writing your tone guide, or have one already, please consider opening it up to the public.

If your company’s tone of voice guide is published, please leave a comment with the link! I would be so happy to share your story.

Tone of voice resources

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