Tom Vander Well, executive vice president of c wenger group, is a recognized customer service authority in the contact center industry.
Along my customer service journey I have had the opportunity to work with numerous businesses, small and large, from a diverse array of market spaces. One of the most fascinating discoveries for me was finding tremendous commonality in my clients’ customer service struggles. I’ve come to understand that most customer service problems are rooted in communication problems. Lack of communication, miscommunication, and poor communication within an organization are the foundation for poor customer experiences.
As we look ahead to a new year, here are five great suggestions for communication resolutions just might revolutionize your coming year:
Listen to your customer. The forgotten part of successful communication is choosing to listen to and hear the other party. Over the years I’ve been amazed at the number of executives, small business owners, and entrepreneurs who have never actually listened to their customers. What do they like about what you’re providing or doing for them? What irritates them? What is it that they really care about? Stop trusting your gut and take steps to investigate your customers’ hearts and minds.
Talk to other departments. One of the most common sources of a customer service crisis is lack of internal communication. The Customer Service queue blows up with irate online customers and the contact center isn’t staffed to handle it because no one in Operations thought to tell their colleagues that the company’s servers would be down for a system upgrade that day. As you ramp up your projects for 2015, make sure you add an action item to consider all the other departments your project will affect and bring them into the loop sooner rather than later.
Have a conversation with your team members. Whenever our group has done employee satisfaction surveys for clients, the results almost always show that employees want more time and communication with managers. Confession: Just the other day one of my own team members made an honest, direct plea to me for more consistent communication. Ouch. This one is back on top of my own list of goals for 2015.
Listen to the truth. A few years ago our sales quality assessment revealed that my client’s sales team was not making their required sales calls. Preferring to sit and wait for their phones to ring, a number of individuals on the sales team appeared to be padding their call reports with non-existent sales calls. Business had been brisk enough that sales were up and no one really took notice until we shed light on the situation. In a classic CYA protocol, the sales manager told me to deep-six the report and not reveal the results to anyone. I tried to convince him that his best move was to accept the findings for the revelation that they truly were, take full responsibility for the situation revealed in the report, and provide the detailed action plan we’d provided for remedying the situation. He chose to bury the report, and his career.
Say “Thank you.” Our culture is speeding up, technology is speeding up, and our communication methods are becoming faster and more truncated. One of my own personal observations is that we are losing the common courtesy of saying thank you. The “thank you” note seems to have become extinct with snail mail. A common social etiquette hasn’t consistently caught up in electronic form. Yet our research shows that customers still value simple courtesies. Don’t forget to honestly thank your customers. Don’t forget to express gratitude to your employer, your employees, or your team members (Oh, and don’t forget your family). A little goes a long way.
Here’s to a great, more communicative 2015!