Customers are the bread and butter for any organisation, whether selling to or supporting businesses or individuals, communication is vital between both parties. See below the tips for effective communication with customers both physically and digitally:
There is a difference between hearing someone, listening to them and actively listening.
Hearing is the act of perceiving sound, you can hear that there is noise occurring but not focusing on what is being said or where the sound is coming from.
To listen is to hear what is being said however, you can be distracted by your own thoughts and not truly focus on what the other person is conveying.
Active listening is being completely focused on the source of the sound, without any distortion, the listener can also read more into:
Body Language / Tone of Voice
Companies should pay attention to body language and tone of voice, where applicable. This enables the company representative to analyse deeper than what the customer is just saying, and shift their approach.
Don’t Interrupt / Overtype
Customers want to feel valued, whether in person or on the phone they do not want to be interrupted, they want to be allowed the time to get their thoughts across.
Overtyping a visitor in chat is the equivalent of this, as most chat software will display when the operator is typing to the visitor. It can stop the visitor from writing if they suddenly see the operator typing icon.
Customers will not be up to date with the latest buzzword or jargon in the industry; they want an easy answer to their enquiry and will not reach for a dictionary to decode your response. Keep it simple!
There’s the saying “treat others how you wish to be treated”, despite the channel of communication representatives should strive to remain polite and professional, regardless of how the customer is behaving. Say please if you have asked the customer for details, rather than being short/blunt. “Can I take your email address please?” compared to “What is your email address?”.
Representatives should avoid statements that are negative, don’t tell visitors that they can’t do something; tell them what they can do. More positive interactions will contribute to satisfied customers.
Avoid Defensive Reactions
The way we phrase a sentence can sometimes come across more aggressively than we intended, and certainly can be the case in digital communication as the message is perceived as we read it. If a sentence can be misinterpreted, edit it to soften the wording.
For example, instead of “you have provided the incorrect details” maybe try “I cannot locate those details, could there be a different email address for you” this way the representative is taking the blame off the customer and suggesting an alternative.
Limit Background Noise and Distractions
It is easy to become distracted when communicating; writing down the wrong word due to hearing another, or calling someone the incorrect name as you read an email.
Where possible reduce your distractions and noise around you; ensuring focus is solely on the communication between you and the customer.
Read the Enquiry Carefully
Live chat is an instant communication channel, customers expect you to be speedy but accurate when responding, if it takes an extra few seconds to reread through their question ensure you take this time, therefore reducing the risk of replying with incorrect information.
To lessen the number of emails being bounced between recipients, ensure all points are covered in your reply and every contact in the original email is still copied into the response.
Asking the customer how they prefer to communicate will make it much easier for representatives. I’m sure we have all experienced a customer who prefers to speak via email who hasn’t been too warm when you tried to call them, or that they suddenly seem to be unavailable every time you ring. You will build a positive relationship a lot quicker if you respect the customer’s choice.
Click4Assistance is the UK’s leading provider of live chat software, helping a range of organisations to improve communication with their visitors online. For more information take a look at our brand new video or visit our website.