Outdoor singing art and artificial intelligence both know that customers are not tone deaf, do you?


The future of tone management in the customer journey are endless! Do you really think your customers are “tone deaf”? Well, they’re not. Have you ever “heard” the tone of a close relative change when something is wrong? Of course you can. Luke Jerrum is well known for his multidisciplinary art. This huge harp will play music even when there is very little wind and Jerrum knows you can hear all the tones. Customers can hear even the slightest tone change too. Artificial intelligence it already starting to advise team members when it hears certain negative tones.  Customers and team members are not tone deaf at all. Start to factor tone in your plans.

Luke Jerrum

Luke Jerrum’s multidisciplinary art is seen around the world combining art, music, light, you name it. In this 2011 piece at the Eden Project in Cornwall county, UK, the huge harp might just hum on a calm day or play loudly if the wind kicks up. Jerrum teaches us that our tone is always there too. On the phone or in person, our customers are not tone deaf and neither are we.  Customers are listening to your tone. And, when you listen to your customers, you hear in their tone if you are connecting with them.

Artificial Intelligence Really?

Like Jerrum and his music art, artificial intelligence is starting to kick in to help evaluate tone. In Tom Simonite’s Wired article from March 19,2018 called “This Call May Be Monitored For Tone And Emotion”  he says software is being developed for call centers to find signs of distress or tone in customer voices. Team members are then sent notices to help remediate an unhappy tone. These new tools are already in use at Met Life where notifications help prompt them to be more of a problem solver or to listen more intently.

Ask your team today to listen for tone, not just on the phone but at your locations too. Have them check and recheck themselves during a conversation to get closely aligned with what each customer needs.  If customers start to sound unhappy or irritated, see what steps can be taken to get back on track. Start by talking about it. AI is coming.

Customers are not tone deaf either

It goes both ways. Your team might have had a bad day or their last customer was rude.  Help them learn to start over with each customer. It’s not an easy thing to do but just talking about tone will help them think about it as they go through their day. In the future, the same AI tools evaluating customer tones will soon evaluate team member tones too.

Managing tone in the future

The future of tone management are endless. Team members might be prompted right on the spot to help read customers better. Reps own voices might be evaluated and training plans put in place to help them understand their own tone issues. And even managers someday might be advised to use a more effective tone with their team. It’s seems a bit overwhelming but, if done carefully, these tools can help calm the most difficult situations.

Consistency with mystery shopping program

You can implement new tools but without a mystery shopping program, you will not know if your customers are being treated consistently. Decide what is important and set up a program to have mystery shoppers check key factors especially when making major changes. Instead of random feedback, you’ll find out if your team members are meeting your brand’s standards even when you are not there to check yourself. You team can see trends over time question by question. Consistent service as to be a key foundation.

Acknowledge your team when they are not “tone deaf”

Today. Right now. Lead! Whenever you can, take a minute to acknowledge someone that responded to a customer’s tone or who always has a great tone in their voice at work. Just like in Luke Jessum’s art piece, tone can always be heard whether someone is speaking loudly or quietly. Factor that into each customer experience and journey!


Mary Furrie, CEO, Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers, helping clients create consistency with mystery shopping programs.

Image credits – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2040380/Singing-wind-Giant-10-tonne-Aeolian-harp-brings-music-Eden-Project.html

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