Communication is the key to a customer’s heart
The greatest gift you can give to your customers and clients is impeccable communication. You may be familiar with the term “impeccable,” as popularized by author Don Miguel Ruiz in his book, The Four Agreements. “Be impeccable with your word” is listed as the first agreement. Ruiz says the way you use your words can set you free or enslave you further.
Your words can have the same effect on your clients. In fact, impeccable communication is what strengthens your customer relationships.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines impeccable as “free from fault or blame.” When you’re impeccable with your word, you’re using it to promote healthy, happy situations where you cannot be blamed for wrong-doing. This requires more than just being honest. It requires having the courage to make things right through your communication.
Having impeccable communication doesn’t mean blurting out the truth regardless of the circumstances. It requires being sensitive to the situation to avoid doing emotional harm to others. For example, if your customer wants a refund because they bought the wrong product, you don’t need to tell them they should have read the description more carefully. You need to make it right, either by sending them the product they really want or getting their refund processed promptly.
Here are three ways you can create stronger customer relationships through communication:
1. Be generous with customer complaints
When it comes to customer relationships, you have to nurture them with impeccability if you want to retain them long-term. Being generous means creating a solution that is a win for everyone involved. Here’s an example of what it looks like to be generous when a customer has a complaint about a product that didn’t serve their needs or work as expected:
Customer: “I want a refund, these slippers don’t work for me. It’s frustrating.”
You: “I apologize for your frustrating experience. May I ask what doesn’t work?”
Customer: “It says one size fits all but they keep falling off when I walk. They’re too big.”
You: “I apologize for that, is there anything I can do to make it right? Would you like to try another pair or receive a refund? Or can I send you one of our other products to try on the house.”
Customer: “Actually, yes I’d love to try your gloves. They look pretty warm.”
You: “Great, I’ll send you out a pair of gloves right away, and if you can hold on for just a moment, I’ll transfer you to our billing department and they can process your refund for the slippers right away.”
Customer: “Wonderful, thank you!”
How your team members communicate with customers will make or break their loyalty and satisfaction. You could have the best product in the world but if your customers can’t get the support they need, they’ll find someone else to buy from.
2. Hold internal communication to high standards
It’s easy to yell across the office, send a quick email, or just casually drop by someone’s desk when you need something, but it’s not that efficient. In fact, it’s not efficient at all. It takes time to open, read, and respond to emails. And unexpected interruptions can really throw people off track.
If you allow this type of communication in your office, it may seem harmless but it creates a culture of laziness and unproductivity. When your team members spend the day distracted, fielding multiple unexpected communication requests, they’re spending less time helping customers.
Structure internal communications
Your team needs to be able to communicate clearly and quickly with each other in a way that respects their time. Keep your internal communication systems up and running, and consider a unified communication system to make it easy.
Set rules for how your team should communicate with each other so that nobody gets interrupted unexpectedly. Ask team members to send a quick email asking if the person has a few minutes to talk or ask for a better time. It’s simple but effective. The higher communication standards you hold your team to, the more they’ll pass on that gold to your customers.
3. Train your team to be responsive, proactive communicators
Unfortunately, many people are reactive communicators by nature – and it’s not a communication style that works. Reactive communication occurs when a person responds instantaneously, usually out of anger or fear, and their response is designed to make the other person wrong. The comments section on a news website is a perfect example of reactive communication where people argue and don’t listen to each other.
Communication leads to love
When you go above and beyond what your customers expect, they will always remember it. Impeccable communication really is the key to a customer’s heart. So train your team members into thoughtful communications, regardless of the circumstances, and you’re guaranteed to win hearts (and customers) for life.
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and...