It’s not 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 are digital processes and the emergence of chat bots where humans are totally removed from the process. There is no question to the value these modes can provide in certain situations and environments. However, it’s when we have an issue these new modes of communication tend to break down or lose their effectiveness in protecting customer relationships.
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 a behaviour is becoming less of a focus as the human element is being reduced. 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 find a contact number. It sends a very loud and clear message to their market that they don’t care enough to be focused on providing a seamless experience. This is a total lack of empathy and concern about 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 feedback from hundreds of thousands of respondents who scored 8/10 or lower on their feedback is one primary complaint that outranks the rest by almost 2:1 – 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 the team to take responsibility and train them in 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 responsibly to support you and solve your concerns. It immediately builds confidence and engages 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 them 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 in 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 the reason 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 you 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.