Communicating effectively with your customers is essential to the success of your business. You can have the best product or service in the world, but if you cannot communicate that to your potential customers you won’t be making many sales. Customer communication also plays a big factor in whether or not customers will return to your business. There are several key components of customer communication, keep reading to find out!
Often we focus a bit too much on what to say, and not enough on listening to what the customer says. The overall interaction should be focused on the customer, make them the center of the conversation, and employ active listening techniques while they speak. Active listening involves showing the other person that you are interested in what they are saying. With customers, you should generally smile, nod, and make eye contact while they are speaking.
Smiling is best for the majority of customer interactions. However, it is important to use common sense and adjust appropriately if they are telling you about a sad or traumatic incident like a car accident. Also include comments that reflect back to them what they have told you, demonstrate interest through short comments like “yes” or “I see”, and ask the customer clarifying questions. Let the customer speak and avoid interrupting them or redirecting the conversation. Relating to a customer through shared interests or experiences can help with relationship-building, but remember to keep the initial conversation focused on the customer and their needs. Allow them to do the majority of the talking.
It is vital to know how to read nonverbal cues. You must also be aware of how you deliver your own nonverbal cues. Body language and facial expressions can communicate what a person is feeling. Be sure to use open body language when interacting with customers face-to-face. Avoid crossing your arms during customer interactions. This can be a natural stance for many people. However, it can communicate that you are defensive. Or, closed off, hostile, offended, or otherwise uneasy with the conversation. Watch out for a customer crossing their arms mid-conversation as it may be a sign that they are becoming irritated or unhappy at where the conversation is going. Make sure that your body language is consistent with your tone.
Making and maintaining eye contact is another important form of nonverbal communication. Eye contact demonstrates focus and shows that you are truly engaged and listening. In longer customer service interactions or with new or nervous employees, wandering eyes are common but looking around and not at the customer can be interpreted as lack of interest, and you never want customers to think that you aren’t interested!
Often when it comes to customer service, it’s not about what you say but how you say it. Using positive language is incredibly important, especially when declining a request. Focus on what you can do for the customer, rather than on what you can’t do. This will help demonstrate to the customer that you are helping them to the best of your ability. Instead of saying “I can’t do that” or “we don’t carry that” put a positive spin on it and suggest an alternative! Positive language and a problem-solving mindset will allow customer service employees to give the customer a positive experience. This is true even if the customer doesn’t get exactly what they are looking for.
Reaching your customers through the right communication is important, but often overlooked. As you are probably aware, there tend to be generational differences when it comes to communication preferences. Millennials and Gen Z are known to generally prefer electronic means of communication; text, email, social media. Older generations may appreciate the value of a personal phone call. Or, even just the ability to speak to a real person on the phone. Everyone has their own preferences though. So, if you need to follow up with a customer, make it personal. It’s always a good idea to ask them what their preferred communication method is.
Gathering customer feedback is a great customer relations tool. Customer feedback can work as a marketing tool, through sites like Facebook or Yelp, to attract new customers based on your current customers’ reviews. It can also allow you to quickly address any issues as they arise to ensure that your customers remain satisfied and come back. There are several methods that you can use to encourage feedback from your customers. Having a direct check-in with your customer will allow you to immediately address any issues or questions that they may have.
Problem Solving With Customers
You will undoubtedly run into a dissatisfied customer at some point. The good news is that by employing proper customer communication and problem-solving techniques, you can turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one. The key is to remember that customer complaints aren’t personal. Customers are often very frustrated when making complaints, and take those frustrations out on an employee or manager. For business owners, it can be hard to not take complaints personally because the business is very special and personal to you. However, it is important to regulate your own emotions in order to stay calm and positive when interacting with an upset customer.
Another key thing to remember when dealing with customers is that it can be frustrating to be transferred or redirected to many times or to have a long wait in order to have your issue resolved. For this reason, I encourage business owners and managers to empower their employees and give them the resources and authority to handle common customer complaints or concerns. For employees, try to stay with the customer throughout the process.
Regardless of your level within your company, you can make an impact when it comes to customer relations. Whether you are a bagger at a grocery store or the CEO of a company, creating strong relationships with your customers is important. It improves their overall experience and keeps them coming back. Even if you don’t work directly with external customers, there may be internal customers that you can practice these methods on. For example, if you are a Human Resources Manager, think of the employees as your customers!
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