It wasn’t so long ago that we had to personally engage with customers to communicate, either via phone or face to face. Writing a letter was the last resort, it had to be delivered by the post. Today two common forms of communication are digital processes and the emergence of chatbots where humans are totally removed from the process.
There is no doubting the value of these tools. However, it’s when customers have an issue these new modes of communication tend to breakdown or lose their effectiveness in protecting customer relationships. So how can we ensure customers with issues have their needs met and problems solved in a timely fashion? Sometimes going back to basics can be a great recourse.
The Care Factor
When things are working well there is rarely a need to react and resolve. However, when they don’t, a completely new level of engagement is required. The one vital behaviour that tends to be missing in today’s modern communication process is the ability to have and deliver empathy.
As consumers when we don’t get what we expect the last thing we want is to have our time wasted or be given excuses. Empathy as behaviour is becoming less of a focus as the human element is being reduced from customer service. Consider how hard it can be to find a phone number on a website or even a physical address. You can find yourself searching google just to locate a contact number. This sends a very loud and clear message to customers that the business doesn’t care enough to be focused on providing a seamless experience. This is a total lack of empathy and concern to your needs. The push to drive communication to an email/web-based response is seen as more efficient from an economical and resource viewpoint, however, it’s very short-sighted when considering the impact on customer experience.
The primary complaint from customers that out-ranks the rest by almost two to one is poor communication. It is by far the most profound complaint across a multitude of markets and industries. The interesting insight with communication is, it’s the easiest and fastest to resolve. Empower your team to take responsibility and train them on how to manage issues. When they can’t, ensure the person with the right experience steps in and leads the way, then follow up with revised documentation and training. While it takes time and cost to get it effective, once it’s complete, it immediately reverses the equation.
Consider how you have felt when you had an issue and were fortunate to have a great team member take responsibility to support you and solve your concerns. It immediately built confidence and engaged you with the business on a totally new level. The next time you require the same thing you don’t hesitate to return; you now know what they will do to ensure you have a great experience.
Sometimes it’s what happens when you don’t get what you expect that really builds your trust in a business. Consider the opposite situation when you didn’t get the support and empathy you expected, you go out of your way to avoid the business and never recommend. All because the fundamental behaviour of communication was lacking and their engagement with you lacked a duty of care.
A powerful exercise to do in your business is to engage your leadership team and everyone down to the front line and test their standards of communication to ensure they are effective and professional. Most importantly, before you look outside the business and test the customer engagement, have a close look at the internal team engagement. It’s amazing how many times the reason behind bad customer communication is poor internal communication. If the team aren’t aligned and connected with each other, you cannot expect them to be connected to your market.
Make communication your primary focus as a foundation of service excellence to your market. Empower your team to be masterful communicators and problem solvers. It takes effort, but the rewards are fabulous for those with the courage and commitment to follow through. Remember, different isn’t always better, but better is always different.