The Power of Language – Improving NPS by 35 points


How often are your customer experience teams consciously choosing the most influential language and behaviours?

Or do they sometimes operate on autopilot and miss the opportunity to adjust customer perception?

Why bother? Investing in staff so they are consciously at the top of their game can improve your NPS scores by 35 points. (Source: Tempkin Group)

Almost everywhere in our culture we can spot examples of unconscious communication when

  • Boris Johnson the Foreign secretary isn’t mindful of his language choice and falls foul of his vocabulary
  • It seems Prince Phillip has made a career out of this while
  • The now president of the US appears to be taking this to new levels when communicating to Women, Mexicans, Muslims or just about anyone with whom he doesn’t connect don’t.

What about your teams?

It’s all too easy to assume we are god at making conscious choices. We don’t have too look far to realise this isn’t necessarily so when

  • In a disagreement/debate with another (A customer or loved one) we counter their opinion with, “Yes but…or Yes however…and thereby unconsciously dismiss/belittle their important view.
  • Using unconfirmed titles to address others such as, “Sir” or “Madam” which many people dislike compared to hearing their name. Leaving them feeling depersonalised.
  • We mismatch others with contradictory voice or body language that trigger signals of mistrust and opposition
  • We use ambiguous language including, “Obviously”, “As I’ve just told you”, “I’m afraid /unfortunately”, “You’ll have to…” with their hidden meanings of you should already know this, you weren’t listening stupid, over emphasising the negative and that you have no choice – put up with it.

There are plenty of customer experience organisations using this level of language, not realising THEY are creating more negative reactions in their customers.

Autopilot V Conscious Choice

In autopilot we repeat our old habits, without ever challenging them. We get stuck with the same types of customers and enquiries and end up blaming them for the outcomes we dislike.

How do we begin to expand conscious choice?

First we need to have a motivation to want to do so. Linked to benefits of adapting and adjusting our communication style to a wide range of people, different to us.

Next we can take a regular practice such as AAI (Awareness, Acceptance, Intention)

Awareness: Consciously choosing to increase our awareness each day in different ways. E.g. noticing when we get triggered in a tough conversation. How this affects our voice, breathing, body language, our choice of vocabulary, our body (tension areas), emotions, beliefs and their impact.

A tiny example of this is when people hold the belief their computer is crap (and are triggered by this) they inadvertently say to their customers, “I’m afraid the computer systems a bit slow”.

Acceptance: We combine our awareness practice with acceptance of our challenges. Including our difficult feelings, emotions, triggers and those bodily sensations that let us know that there’s a better way of communicating – This mean cultivating curiosity. By remaining curios we can learn, relatively quickly, a better way. There are lots of resources on acceptance techniques available. Including changing our breathing and mindfulness.

Intention: Setting a daily practice of how we want to be (or be more of). An intention is different to a goal in that we never get to its end. Intentions are best chosen by ourselves rather than what we believe others, our manager or organisation want from us.

They could include being more conciliatory, collaborative, understanding or empathic or whatever will help serve the outcome we are striving for in our communication.

Easy Jet Staff on Autopilot

A few weeks ago I flew Easy Jet suffering a delay of 2.5 hours.

After several promises of leaving beforehand and passing the 2 hour mark I asked one of the cabin crew about the EU Law stipulating free food/drink vouchers for passengers being delayed more than 2 hours. Her reply

“I’m afraid sir Easy Jet policy is 3 hours”

I countered with, “how does that stand up against EU law”, to which she replied

“I don’t know, as I’ve just said, our policy is 3 hours you’ll have to speak to the bosses”

What she didn’t realise is that most of her language is potentially inflammatory. Not her fault really because she is unconscious to its impact. If there’s fault it’s with the leadership team not equipping her with better skills.

I find it surprising she hasn’t been trained to handle such a typical and obvious objection that would help her become more conscious of a better way to communicate.

I had to ask to speak to the cabin manager. He faired a little differently with his language, using it to deflect the pressure away from him and his team but still damming the company he represents.

He tried to convince me, after his many years of service, he had never heard of the EU law. As though a leading airline would consciously omit this from their basic training.

If you’d like to learn more about

  • Creating conscious language and its power
  • How to be outstanding when under pressure
  • Adjusting your communication style to a wide range of customers
  • Increasing your NPS scores through language

Get in touch

  • Quote-background

    “I don’t know, as I’ve just said, our policy is 3 hours you’ll have to speak to the bosses”. Easy Jet choosing inneffective language to its customers.

    Glenn Bracey,
    Future Vision Training Ltd,
    13th February 2017


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