Imagine driving down the highway, checking the mile markers, when all of the sudden the signs change from miles to inches. What would your first reaction be? Confusion? Concern? Frustration, definitely. Anxiety as well when you realize there’s a whole new set of calculations needed to translate the distances. No question, it would be a bad experience.

Once we’ve gotten used to a specific communication style in a specific context, any change to that style is disorienting. And every day we, as customers, experience this confusion when companies don’t use their brand voice in customer service.

Why your business needs a clear brand voice

Brand voice is the embodiment of your brand’s identity through words and prose—web copy, advertisements, and email newsletters. The personality of your brand voice If your brand identity is young and fresh, the brand voice might be playful and fun—dropping pop culture references in the copy. If the brand identity is corporate and traditional, the voice might be conservative and professional.

Whatever your brand voice is, make it cohesive across every customer interaction. Why? Just think back to those confusing mile markers. Consistency of brand voice:

Builds brand trust

Just like in personal relationships, consistency of character builds trust over time. Your brand identity gets muddled if your brand speaks one way in advertisements and another way on the blog

Helps the customer navigate and digest the information

Customers are already familiar with your tone of voice. They know when to read a whole page of text vs. when something needs an action: “Click here now!” Using a consistent brand voice enables you to lead customers to certain actions and behaviors.

Increases opportunities for more customer interactions

If all of your customer service channels feel consistent (and comfortable) then customers will be more likely to explore multiple touch points. Aim for a seamless transition of brand voice from chat to social to self-service. This means educating your agents on brand voice.

The importance of brand voice in customer service

Too often customer service content—help center articles, forums, FAQs—is written with no regard to the customer experience. The brand voice shifts from what customers know to something new, dry, and technical. The sense of familiarity is gone. It feels foreign and isolated from the brand experience. This puts customers on edge at a time when they are already stressed out.

What does this disconnect look like?

Say this is your brand voice:

    We’re a fun-loving company that cares about YOU the customer. Find everything you need here to sign up for our product.

And this is your customer service voice:

    If the download procedure is not complying, users can utilize self-service measures such as the FAQ section located on the Customer Support page.

A bit different, right? It’s a context jolt you don’t want to give customers in their time of need. Instead of forcing your customers to think in inches instead of miles, inject your brand voice into all customer service content you create. For example, writing the above phrase in the brand voice, we get something much more conversational and easier to understand.

    Having issues with downloading our product? We’re here to help. Check our FAQ page for answers or reach out to us via live chat.

There’s much written about how and why to maintain a consistent brand voice, but that understanding seems to drop off when creating customer service content. With a little strategy and effort, you can bridge the gap between your customer service voice and your brand voice—and more importantly, improve your customers’ experiences.

Chelsea Larsson is a content marketer for Zendesk and a frequent contributor to Relate. She believes any problem can be solved with a pen, paper, and Pimm's cup. Find her on Twitter: @ChelseaLarsson.