News, insights, ponderings . . .

by Katie. July 2017.

As service communications specialists, we’re aware that artificial intelligence is a hot topic. Along with what it promises for your business. We’re also aware that a contact centre needs to strike the balance between operational efficiency and good customer experience. Katie takes a look at laying the groundwork for your journey towards AI.

by Jon. July 2017.

Long gone are the days when a record company could demand an artist gets paid £250,000 for their music to be played on a Levi’s commercial. Jon ponders how normal musicians make a living from their music in 2017.

by Fran. June 2017.

The nature of customer service and contact is changing fast, and soh has been happily changing with it. Each of our clients knows us for very different things. Here are 15 things we’ve done for clients over the past year, that we could also do for you.

by Jon. June 2017.

With the rise of voice-controlled devices, humanity is finally seeing machines respond to the natural interface we use to interact with each other on a day-to-day basis; talking. Jon steps away from the studio for a brief look at where the world of AI might take us.

by Janina. June 2017.
To garner trust, politicians need to master three disciplines - their words, tone and body language. Janina explores what politicians can teach us about authenticity and shares 8 tips for speaking with confidence and earning trust when communicating with customers.
by Katie & Martin. Feb 2017.

When you're communicating with all your customers on sensitive subjects extra care is needed. Get it wrong and the damage is instant with large numbers of cancellations, customer complaints not to mention a costly increase in contacts to handle. Here's our approach to design and testing boiled down to 6 simple steps.

by Martin. Dec 2016.

Smileys, emoticons and emojis have become part of our everyday lives - but should they be part of your written service communications? Martin talks through some of the results from our latest research looking at what consumers really think about emoticons and smileys being used in letters, emails and social media.

by Sabine and Martin. July 2016.

Following their presentation at the LIAR IV linguistics politeness conference, Sabine and Martin roundup everything you need to think about to create the perfect email greeting. And look at what might happen if you get it wrong.

by Rob. June 2016.

When things go wrong an apology is in order. But what should you say? We’ve reviewed the latest research, looked into current service best practices and asked our experts to give their views on how to say the hardest word.

by Fran. May 2016.

We caught up with James Walker, founder of the complaints resolution website Resolver, to find out what customers really think about complaints handling, which businesses do it well plus what you should think about if you want to improve.

by Martin. March 2016.

Hi, Hello, Hey, Dear Mr Smith, To whom it may concern . . . how do you get a greeting right? In this first part of our research into service greetings we've looked at how often consumers feel they’re greeted inappropriately via email, over the phone as well as on web chat etc. And, discovered how age and gender affect this.

by Fran. January 2016.

Fran explains the Your Free Day initiative, how the soh team will be giving up their time to support Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity and how you can get involved.

by Martin. October 2015.

ICM asked 2000+ consumers what they thought of an email response from one of the UK's leading insurers. And one we wrote using our 4 Service Writing Rules. Martin discusses the results as well as what they mean for businesses and service organisations.

by Sabine and Martin. October 2015.

So how do you write the perfect service email? Sabine and Martin have put emails from some of the UK's biggest brands under microscope. And have asked the well-known market researcher ICM to find out what customers really want. The result? 10 things every service writer should know.

by Katie. October 2015.

In a recent survey, email was most popular when it came to how customers prefer to communicate with businesses. Katie delves into the numbers, ponders why we love email so much. And, talks through how our new Writing to improve service — 1 Day Workshop will help you make the most of that love.

by Janina. September 2015.

In their annual survey naming the best and worst brands for service, Which? found that 'friendly and helpful staff' topped the list of shoppers' likes. As tone of voice is one of the main ways that advisors convey their attitude we asked our voice expert Janina for a quick run down on what they can do to develop their tone and help keep you at the top of that Which? service league.

by Fran. June 2015.

Ofcom’s UK Calling will come into play on 1st July. The new scheme will make the cost of calling service numbers clearer for consumers. Find out more about the new rules, our thoughts on the implications and check you’re doing everything you need to do.

by Martin. May 2015.

In the last post on advisor tone Rob talked about the results of our research that showed changing just the way words were said improved satisfaction scores 76%. Here Martin covers the second part of that study that looked at what effect changing the language had. And, what the golden rules are for advisor language.

by Rob. March 2015.

When industry analysts ContactBabel polled Contact Centre Managers on what makes customers satisfied, 'friendly and polite advisors' came second only to first call resolution. Managers certainly think that an advisor's tone is very important. But, does it matter to customers? And, what effect does it really have on satisfaction scores?

by Fran. March 2015.

Every day 5 million callers wait on-hold for their calls to be answered. We thought . . . how about using all of that not so good time for a really good cause - Red Nose Day!

by Rob. Jan 2015.

The FCA has just published its consultation paper on what numbers they think should be used. Find out about the proposed changes. Have your say via the FCA's feedback form. Take a look at what the other number options are. And, review our ICM market research that shows what consumers really think about the phone numbers they're asked to call.

by Rob. November 2014.

New research carried out for us by ICM shows that 'well-known' music was the most liked of the non-message options with 11% of callers also saying that they may be willing to wait longer. 28% said that they may hang up if they hear the type of music that often comes free with phone systems.

by Fran. October 2014.

MUSICLINE has just joined us. Fran explains a little bit about them and why she thinks Nietzche was right when he said 'Life without music would be a mistake'.

by Fran. September 2014.

Which? has just released the results of its latest service polls and the saints and sinners have been named and shamed in the national media again. Fran gives her views on what should be in every service director's plan of action, ready for when that call comes through from a nervous CEO eager to find out what's going to keep them off the couch of Good Morning Britain.

by Martin. August 2014.

Martin’s final postcard from Brighton. This time it’s how the growing effectiveness and falling cost of natural speech self-service may mean an end to touch-tone IVR. And, why you’ll know less about the business that’s serving you because of it.

by Martin. August 2014.

More thoughts and pictures from Martin's trip to the Professional Planning Forum's conference in Brighton. This time it’s how TalkTalk’s new natural speech phone self-service system is improving service for their customers and saving money for their business. And, what do IVRs look like?

by Martin. July 2014.

You don't have to change your IVR technology to make a big difference and how to stop your IVR decaying. Martin was invited to write about some of the service innovation award winners' presentations. He shares his views on the conference and of the streets.

by Rob. June 2014.

Research carried out for soh by respected pollsters ICM shows that consumers are as concerned about using the new 03 prefix numbers as they were the old 08 numbers. Rob shares the results of the research and suggests what needs to be done to make the number changes work for you, consumers and the service sector as a whole.

by Laura. June 2014.

The most successful brands are built around a strong personality. And a strong personality should have a distinctive and consistent voice. Laura ponders why tone of voice is so important and suggests some more unusual places where a bit of personality could make all the difference.

by Jon. May 2014.

Research carried out by Unilever and Manchester Universtity has revelead that background sound heard during a meal can affect how your food tastes. Jon explains why the Gotan Project is the perfect seasonng for his evening meal.

by Fran. April 2014.

With his famous ‘Phone Rage Index’ consumer champion Nigel Clarke, at Please Press 1, is a well known and outspoken critic of bad IVRs. In his quest to rid callers of the misery that is time-consuming phone automated service he’s also meticulously catalogued the levels, options and lengths of voice prompts in IVRs belonging to over 350 of the UK's largest organisations.

by Rob. March 2014.

On the 13th of June the Consumer Rights Directive will come into force and your 'service' or 'helpline' numbers may have to be charged to your customers at a 'basic rate'. The new directive will mean that it's against the law for you to only provide numbers like 0844, 0845 and 0870. Instead, you'll need to provide numbers such as those beginning 03 and 0800.

by Simon. February 2014.

Sounds can cause great annoyance within me.  Obviously there are some that need no explanation like a morning alarm clock, but the sound of someone eating a bowl of cereal? It just seems irrational how much that makes me shudder.

by Kasia. February 2014.

Mercedes-Benz and Philips have taken an exciting approach to advertising their products, taking their customers on a journey of discovery through the intricacies of sound and music.

by James. February 2014.

We all misuse words. It's when they get misused so often and by so many, that skewed definitions become common parlance.

by Chris. January 2014.

Chirp, an application from the minds at University College London, lets you share photos, messages and web links with a warble you can send to anyone and everyone within hearing distance...