Consistent Communication is Better
By Sandy Geroux
experts focus on good communication, reminding us to communicate well,
be clear and succinct, “don’t waste people’s time!”
However, an even bigger, often overlooked, factor in business
is LACK of communication. Consider the following situation:
had a problem with my health insurance.
When I called my agent, he had lost my file and couldn’t
answer my question, then became confused over whether or not I had the
coverage in question. He
said he’d check on it, only to leave me hanging for weeks without a
response, despite numerous calls and requests for return calls or
e-mails (to help eliminate phone tag).
When I met
an agent from another agency that also handles my health insurance
provider’s policies, I explained the situation and asked him to have
someone call me, intending to switch companies and use them.
I later discovered that he did pass my name on to a colleague
who handles health insurance (since he did not).
went by with no call. Now
frustrated by the new company, I called my own agency again.
When my agent wasn’t there, I asked to speak with someone
else – and got the President of the company, who is now handling my
I’d re-contacted my current company, I received a call from the new
agent, who explained that I hadn’t received a return call because “she’d
been out sick the previous week” (by this time, half of the current
week had also gone by). Since
I thought she’d either forgotten about me or didn’t have time for
me (and had gone back to my old agency by then), our opportunity to
work together had passed.
conversation with a respected colleague caused me to ask myself,
“Uh-oh, am I being intolerant?”
- and more important - question is whether or not the new business
person had lost the opportunity for new business by allowing a
potentially “intolerant” attitude to be fostered, when it could
have been nipped in the bud – and actually converted into a very
tolerant one – with a simple phone call.
If she had simply called me (or asked someone else to call me)
so sorry – you’ve called at a time when I’m (or she’s) out
sick [or I’ve just gotten back from being out sick, or I’m in the
middle of a big situation that needs resolving – or almost anything
at all!]. May I call you
back in a couple of days when I can catch my breath and serve you
Would I have understood? –
Would I have been more
inclined to cut her some slack? – Absolutely (I’ve been there,
Would it have cut off the
thoughts/feelings that I was either being ignored, forgotten or
wasn’t important to them? – Yes
Would it have given her time
to both handle more urgent matters and gain new business? – Yes
an effort to continually improve our service, we must ask ourselves:
How do our customers feel
when we don’t answer their calls in a timely manner?
know the status of a customer’s situation and know that we’re
working on getting it resolved, if we haven’t called to tell the
customer (often for days or weeks at a time), do they
Don’t our customers deserve not
to be “left in the dark”?
Wouldn’t it help to call,
even if we don’t have a full answer yet, or just to say,
“I’m waiting for an answer from someone else and haven’t
received it yet – but I wanted you to know that I haven’t
forgotten about you”? Would
it further help to tell them it may be a few more days before we can
get back to them with an answer?
Why would we want to give our customers any chance at
all to “build up negative scenarios” in their own minds, when
timely contact (even if it contains nothing new!) could prevent that
Are backup systems in place to handle customers and
potential customers in case we’re out for a period of time… even
if it’s just to call people to ask for more time until we return?
in touch, we let customers know:
They are important to us
We have not forgotten them
We are working hard to get
their issues resolved
We are probably just as
frustrated as they are (building commiseration and empathy from
our customers; we're in this together!)
nuances of customer service can be tricky to recognize and difficult
to remember, especially when we’re overloaded.
But we must take advantage of every opportunity to
differentiate ourselves and allow our customers to think, feel and say (to
everyone they know), “Wow, when I
worked with him/her, I never had to wonder what was going on.
I was always kept in the loop, and always felt valued by that
all overloaded. And no one
is perfect; no one knows that better than I (sigh!).
We may not be able to give this level of service every time.
But if we strive to learn and improve a little bit from every
situation that arises, trying to do better at least sometimes,
set expectations up front, then follow through with them, that’s
when we get the biggest bang for our customer service buck, and when
we stop allowing overlooked nuances to create negative scenarios in
our customers’ minds (and subsequent actions).
and watch your customer loyalty – as well as your business – soar!
Read other articles and learn more
about Sandy Geroux.
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