By Blake Morgan
We interact with people throughout the workday, but how effective is our communication? Quality communication is key to building good relationships, especially with customers. Customers are quick to pick up on authenticity and warmth from customer service representatives—if it’s there, the customer feels valued and welcome, but if it isn’t, they likely feel discouraged and are left with a bad experience.
However, scaling warmth is easier said than done, and it can be difficult to pass on a passion for quality communication to employees, especially in a larger organization. In that case, focus on concrete things employees can do to improve their communication. It may be hard to maintain a warm attitude throughout the workday, but here are three hands-on things you can do to improve your communication with customers and build your authenticity.
Put a face with a name. Many customer service representatives email customers regularly, but it can be hard to have a good relationship with someone who you don’t know what they look like. A simple way to warm up an experience is to send a photo with your customer emails. Just like putting your photo on social media instantly improves your networking, adding a picture to an email is a quick way to show that the representative is a real person, and it adds a human touch to the relationship. Retail website Jet.com does this by sending customers a survey email after each phone interaction they have with a customer service agent. In the email customers can review their experience, and they are also able to see a photo and short bio of the person who just helped them. It is a simple act that helps customers feel more connected with the companies they use.
Ask a question. A simple “how are you?” can go a long way, especially in an email. Too often we don’t even address the person we are communicating with and instead jump right in with the main subject. Take a minute to greet the person and show that you care and value them as a human. We’re not robots, so we shouldn’t treat each other as such. Avoiding short questions and greetings instantly makes email communication cold and impersonal, when what customers often want to feel is that they had a personalized experience with customer service. Just three short words can make all the difference.
Be transparent. A famous example of poor customer service came recently when Lululemon founder Chip Wilson said that some women’s bodies aren’t meant for yoga pants. His comment sparked outrage among customers and potential customers and eventually led to him having to step down from his position. Even Wilson’s own wife on the television show they were appearing on together is shown in a photo looking shocked as the comment is made. Wilson said the comment was misunderstood – but it was too late. He didn’t apologize quickly or clearly enough. He lost to internet outrage. Transparency is huge in customer experience, especially from executives. The need to communicate clearly and to actually mean what you say has never been more important. Leaders at all levels of customer experience can learn to treat each customer and employee like they are the only person in the room—give them the time and respect they deserve, and don’t try to hide behind something that you don’t believe. When employees have good communication with executives, they are more likely to pass it on to customers.
The first steps to great customer experience come from strong communication. There are enough poor customer service interactions today that taking the time to be personable and authentic with a customer can make a huge difference and help your company to stand out. How do you make your communication more personal and effective?