Avoiding Common Managerial Communication
By Dr. Andrew Edelman
today’s highly competitive business world, customer satisfaction has
never been more important in the growth of a company’s “bottom
line.” Unfortunately, corporations are now dealing with a more
diverse and more varied customer base, and in turn, forced to solve
more complex and challenging customer service issues, complaints, and
disputes. These developments are now confirming what customer service
professionals have always known but were seldom allowed to admit: the
customer may not always be
customer service disagreements and disputes, if not carefully managed,
can escalate into more severe confrontations, with resulting negative
effects including workplace violence, lawsuits and litigation, and
causes conflicts to escalate? The following are the most common
communication pitfalls that show how managers can enrage a customer by
what they say and how they say it:
the person rather than the problem – making personal attacks or statements, which
belittle the individual instead of working to solve the issue.
Wielding authority, using your position of power to intimidate or
push others around without attempting to solve the problem.
–disrespecting diverse cultural communication patterns; folding arms
or staring in a defensive manner when approached by someone with
difficult-to-understand accents or differences in dress or appearance.
– Causing a person’s anger or hurt feelings to resurface after the
original disagreement was successfully defused.
of audience awareness
– Ignoring the crowd of curious onlookers who may very quickly
gather at the scene. This can prove extremely dangerous if the crowd
language and phrases
– focusing on unchangeable past events or negative imagery, using “red”
(inflammatory) trigger words, or other discussion about events which
are likely to cause the client’s temper to flair or anger to
to allow someone to vent
interrupting or preventing an angry person from completing a thought
or expressing his or her side of the story. This only serves to bury
the real “fear” or issue and often results in increased
frustration and an escalation of tempers.
disinterested or judgmental
– Wandering eyes, preoccupation with other tasks, not paying full
attention, yawning, arms folded, or shaking head in disgust or
disbelief and making no attempts to hide these feelings.
can managers do to improve managerial communication with difficult or
angry customers? Below are some key conflict management strategies
that can make a significant difference in effectively resolving
disagreements and disputes.
a connection: Managers should use verbal and non-verbal language in ways
to create an atmosphere of interest and genuine concern. Practitioners
should avoid negative imagery-generating phrases (“red” words)
such as “What’s the problem?!” or exhibit body language that sends a
message of disinterest or disrespect. Managers will find greater
success by using positive power phrases or “green words” such as:
me what happened.
can we work together on this?
solve this together.
sorry that you had a negative experience.
be happy to assist you.
is important for managers to acknowledge a person’s perspectives,
points of view, and feelings of stress, anger, or fear. Even if the
customer’s way of viewing the situation may not match theirs.
In fact, the person yelling the loudest is often the person who
feels the greatest lack of control and, deep down, is seeking someone
who will understand their pain. This strategy is particularly useful
in dealing with irate, irrational, or delusional individuals for which
rapid conflict resolution is desirable for everyone’s personal
safety and security. Best practice phrases include:
respect how you feel.
are absolutely right to feel that way.
probably feel the same way if that happened to me.
really want to work with you to resolve this situation.
resolution must be a partnership. This is why it is critical for
managers to always include the customer in the decision making
process. Rather than assuming what the customer wants, ask. Often, the
actual solution is quite simple. If the customer’s need or want is
unrealistic or counter to company regulations, explore and offer
additional choices and let the customers take ownership in their
this television brand is out of stock, I would like to show you some
of our new upgraded entertainment centers that I believe will meet or
exceed your expectations. Would you like a small, medium or large
managers explore solution options by asking questions and eliciting
customer feedback, the communication process is more likely to move
towards a productive course of action.
the customer has agreed to a course of action, managers should
document the decision choice and give a copy to the customer. This
cements the agreement and partnership in the problem-solving process
and gives feelings of control back to the customer. Although this
give-and-take process requires time and energy on the part of the
manager and customer service personnel, the rewards will be well-worth
managers help customers make choices they feel comfortable with,
managers have done more than simply to defuse a conflict. They have
increased the likelihood of establishing a loyal, long-term client
Read other articles and learn more
Andrew J. Edelman.
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