“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” -- Henry Winkler
Communication is a massive part of any business venture because it is on this part that your entire capacity to win over people relies upon. A positive communication has a tremendous potential in terms of getting mileage for your business and brand and nothing delivers customer satisfaction as effectively as a successful communication. It is always better to give enough thought before getting into the business of customer communication. Flashy logos or taglines or discounts to get more footfalls are good but they are not sufficient to ensure that the entire communication story has unfolded perfectly. But what is that serious thought that you need to put into the idea of communicating with your customers?
MAINTAINING A CONSISTENT TONE:
While the term customer is a common term, it doesn’t really convey a simplistic meaning. ‘Customer’ is a collective name for a group of individuals who are diverse and have no iota of similarity with each other in terms of taste, perception, knowledge, patience, etc. So you need to have different techniques to deal with each customer if you are looking for a long association. You may always feel that losing a customer or two is not a big deal as there will be more to replace them. But it is always wise to remember that losing even one customer because of a dip in the relationship leaves a mark on your reputation as an entrepreneur and the faster you learn to rectify your own shortcoming from such experience, the better.
Have a unique tone of conversation:
The basic guidelines about dealing with a customer are the same. You need to be hospitable, empathetic and above all, build a bridge between two minds. But the difference you can make with your tone. Speaking with the customer requires you and your team to develop a tone which conveys the message that you are dealing with a human touch, yet professionally.
Use positive language:
Your communication should not only be free flowing but also positive, in terms of the language. There is not much entry of no-words in a healthy conversation for they can make it look pessimistic and purposeless. Even if you have no other option but to say a ‘no’ to your customer to convey that there is no stock of the product that you offer or if that customer hasn’t gone by your company’s exchange policy, you can still run a conversation that not avoids all kinds of negative words and yet gives the customer the impression that he/she is not being underserved.
Be precise and punctual while responding:
It is no rocket science to understand that people avoid reading extremely long messages and the customer is no exception. Be creative and intelligent when you prepare the script of your response to a customer. Images, videos, one liners and links to more serious stuff in your response will appeal more to your customers and if they find the content worthy, they will appreciate it. Also never be casual when it comes to replying to their query. You may have all the work, but this one work is no less significant. The quicker your response is to customers’ needs, the more they will take your business seriously. The slower you go, the more you ruin your prospects to your rivals.
Have a support style guide ready:
As you grow old in your business and your experience gets heavier, you can always prepare to have a style guide on how to deal with situations. That style guide will not only include unique elements of your brand but also official patterns for your team to follow when facing feedback or query from customers. It should include everything -- from the words you use to the moves you make -- to ensure that your customer returns home at least with a positive mind.
Continuing with the conversation:
Even when you are dealing with a customer over a small issue which got resolved fast, never made him feel that you are done with him and is now impatiently looking to the next person in line. A customer who senses that you are treating him/her like just an object might not come back again in the future. Hence, even when you are done with a customer, continue with the polite conversation by asking if he/she needed more assistance in any other way. Let the conversation have a natural conclusion and not a forced and abrupt one.
MASTERING DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS:
There are high chances that you will have a bad day in office while dealing with customers. A dissatisfied customer or one who accused you after falling into the trap of miscommunication is not rare to see. If a customer decides to take you on, you may not always find reasoning and politeness as a remedy to cool the temper. To manage those situations, too, you need to have a mental preparation that you can master over a time. As a human being, an adverse situation can also make you get derailed and commit errors, but a few pieces of advice can help you to master the difficult conversations.
Don’t forget to apologize if needed:
If you find ever that the customer has a reason to feel angry with your company’s conduct, then do not hesitate to tender an apology. As the face of your company and part of your corporate responsibility, you can always do it to give reasoning a chance. If you apologize to a customer who has lost the capacity to think logically and is obsessed with blame game, then you neutralize his offense and create an ambience in which a conversation can take place.
Get over the apology part fast:
Yes, while it is good to apologize over an error that you have made vis-a-vis a customer, it is also wise to get over that apology and go to the next level quickly. Sticking to an apologizing stand will give the impression that you are not ready to think: What next? After apologizing, guide the angry customer’s mind towards a solution. That way, you will be able to gain a psychological lead over him and quicken the settlement fast even while carrying the trust.
Speak to the point:
If you see that you are at a fault or not at a fault, do not get too much involved into the gesturing part. Whoever was wrong, it is always better to look ahead and go for the solution. Even pleasant overtures do not always serve the purpose. Keep the conversation aimed at a solution so that even in a not-so-smooth situation, the sight of the goal of serving the customer is not missed.
It is a common belief that as a seller, you need to know everything. But that is not the case and it only hurts your credibility. Be honest to concede what you don’t know. Customers look for the right thing more than smart people. Even if you have time to see a few customers less, concentrate on the ones you are facing with utmost seriousness and honesty. Tell what you don’t know but promise to still look into the issue. If necessary, you can transfer a customer’s case to another colleague in the company so that he/she doesn’t feel overlooked.
Ally with the customer & don’t tolerate abuse:
As a seller, it is your primary responsibility to ally yourself with the customer since you are the only one on whom he/she can rely as the primary contact point. Do whatever you can to assure him/her about the problem he/she is facing. But at the same time, never tolerate a customer if he/she crosses the line and attacks personally. You have all the right to preserve your self-dignity even when you are at the customers’ service. A strong stand will give the customer the message that there is no point in mindlessly escalating a situation. Mutual respect is the prime requirement for any business engagement.
DELIGHTING YOUR CUSTOMERS:
Just like you have the challenge to overcome adverse situations when dealing with your customers, you also have to face circumstances where you have to cover that extra mile to make your customers happy. There are again certain tactics to make that happen:
Fixing problems even if those didn’t happen because of you:
Many a time, you may find a problem emerging and you personally have no hand in it. Like for example, the customer is not being able to produce a necessary document from his/her office which is required for buying a product or availing a service. You can opt for the easy way by refusing to entertain such a customer. But you can also take the harder way by trying to align yourself with your customer to find what alternative document can work. If you can get it fixed somehow, you are set to gain all the credit. That way, you can help win the trust which will help your own business in return.
Add to the customer’s happiness:
Yes, it is true that unwanted jokes can sometimes turn the customers off, but it is also true that fun elements help to win over the customers better. You can use emoticons and easy content like exclamation points and emojis or even intelligent GIFs to convey a meaningful idea to a customer. These create a positive vibe and are more effective in sending across a positive tone to the recipients.
Make conversations a bridge to build personal rapport:
Just a professional time-bound conversation is not enough to expand the customer base. Those sellers who can bring in a personal touch in those conversations and extend them beyond a solution-specific issue. Similarly, it is always a great gesture to thank customers after they give you an opportunity to serve them. If you thank them through a personally hand-written note, it is even better. It is not always possible to write personally to each customer, but you can maximize the effort to include as many people as you can.
Amid all the technology and machination in the corporate world, what customers desperately look for is human response. It is always good to be empathetic and sensitive to people’s problems. That makes you dear to them. Business is no different. Try to be as human as possible with all the qualities (not robots) when dealing with customers. Everything else will fall in place.