Good Communication Skills vs Bad Communication
This is a true story. And I don't even know how it will end yet! But it's a great example of good communication skills vs bad communication. Good communication skills are the key to customer satisfaction at work. Bad communication is what happened here. But that's why it's a good story!
My son first asked for his cell phone when he was seven years old. And that is way too young as far as I'm concerned. He wanted it for his 8th birthday, so I was not ready to get him a phone.
"Well, at what age will you be ready to get me the phone Dada?" he asked me, because I teach my kids to negotiate and move the sales process forward. They are my kids after all.
So without thinking I said "10 years old and years old would be about right". And then I forgot all about it.
Now, as any parent can tell you, the years go by pretty quickly before I knew ithe was turning 10.
"What would you like for your birthday?" I asked him and without missing a beat he said, "Well, you told me to give me a home for my 10th birthday."
Now, I was shocked. How did he remember that? But he did. And as I teach my kids, we must always honor our promises.
So we placed an order for his new iPhone and I was pretty excited going into the store to pick it up for him today. Honestly, I was happy for him. I was planning on surprising him with it when I got home.
This was the emotional state that I was in when I walked into the store. When I walked out without a phone and a half an hour later, I was in a decidedly less celebratory mood.
So what happened?
The customer service rep at the front counter greeted he professionally took my name, went in the back to retrieve my phone and then never returned. Left me just standing at the counter for about 10 minutes.
I started to wonder what was going on.
After 15 minutes I waved down another sales associate told her how long I'd be standing there without any communication update or explanation as to why I literally didn't know if he was still looking for my son's new iPhone or if you'd gone to lunch or if he was trapped under a pile of boxes and unable to call for help.
So she went to check and after another 10 minutes your original sales rep reemerged without any explanation or acknowledgement. Simply said "I'm looking for it, bear with me." And then he disappeared in the back again.
Now hold on. Stop the presses. Let's back up a second. Let's review shall we?
I came into the store in a celebratory mood, excited to make a purchase that could have a total lifetime value of many 1000s of dollars to that company, was then kept waiting for 25 minutes with no explanation as to why, and then asked to bear with the person who was ostensibly assisting me to complete this purchase.
Never ask a customer to bear with you. The phrase "bear with me" puts the onus of responsibility on the customer. It's the customer who's being asked to make an accommodation for the sales professional whose job it is to close that sale and complete the transaction to the satisfaction of that customer not the other way around.
It's not the customer's job to do anything. The sales sales rep serves the customer. Asking the customers just expand with reverses that dynamic.
Why should I, the customer, bear with the person who has left me standing there for 25 minutes with no information? Seriously, what's to stop me from just walking out and giving my business to a competitor?
My time wasn't being valued and I didn't even know why. I felt taken for granted.
I was not a happy customer, not because I had to wait, that happens, but because of the lack of communication. And that is the real problem here, isn't it? The lack of communication.
So what could he have done differently?
Well, could have kept me in the loop. He could have and should have addressed the situation head on. Explained what the problem was, what he was doing to solve it, and given me the option to either wait or leave and come back later.
In point of fact, I did leave after about 40 minutes. I wrote down my name and number and asked the other rep to contact me when he found my order. And I have no idea if that will even happen because I am still waiting for that call as I write this now.
So the next time you're having an issue with an order remember, good communication is the key to customer satisfaction.
People will forgive live spoken to in an honest, transparent, timely manner. But if you attempt to hide the issue or deal with a while keeping the customer in the dark breaks rapport and threatens to undermine the entire relationship.
So talk about it. Explain the issue. You don't need to apologize or make excuses or false assurances. Just keep your customer in the loop. Let them know what's going on. More often than not they'll understand and they will appreciate that you communicated it with them up front.
I'm still waiting for the iPhone five my son's birthday is in a week, more than one company that carries it. Tick tock.
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