As you’ve no doubt observed, the customer is not always right. However, the customer is always the customer. So, when customers sometimes have their facts wrong you need to be able to correct them without being argumentative. That’s when Ron Willingham’s popular feel, felt, found formula is so effective. The way it works is when a customer says something you disagree with, you reply along the lines of, “I understand how you feel. Other customers have felt the same way. And what they eventually found was (based on this new fact or information that you’re introducing)…” Essentially, you’re starting your response by validating their concerns and showing empathy. That demonstrates to customers that you’re not becoming defensive or dismissive. Then, you introduce new information the customer may not be aware of. We can indeed reduce customer conflicts. The trick is to disagree without being disagreeable.
You've no doubt noticed that in certain workplaces the language tends to be... salty. Typical places you hear the banter become blue are dockyards, construction sites, and of course the House of Commons. In my summer jobs as a youth working as a labourer and truck driver in the oilpatch, I noticed that profanity became such a common habit (including for me I have to admit) that lots of guys just used the F-word as a universal adjective because it was easier than thinking of something more descriptive. That's the problem. These days swearing is so common it comes across as lazy language. Swearing around customers and coworkers says a lot: we are oblivious to the other person's possible sensibilities, we aren't intelligent enough to choose a more appropriate word, and we don't exactly exude class. Becoming a trusted advisor is also about what you chose not to say.
In a world of TV ads that blare, emails that SHOUT IN ALL CAPS, and employees who talk when they should listen, consider the advantages of making your customer communications quieter. Here are four touch points I share in my seminars when a strong/silent approach will differentiate you positively in your customers’ hearts and wallets.
To read the complete article click: “In Praise of Quieter Communications”
Whether you’re coaching a team at a soccer practice, or discussing a proposal in a meeting, there are times when you are expected to take control. Compare two presenters reviewing a project with her team. First presenter: “Ok, that’s if for page 5. Would you kindly turn to page 6 please?” Second presenter: “Ok, that’s it for page 5. Please turn to page 6.” The second presenter, while still being polite, sounds more decisive, in control, and instills more confidence. I believe most of the time, we should ask – not tell. However, on those occasions when you are expected to, go ahead and take command.
If you’ve ever watched a great leader in a meeting you may notice a subtle technique that runs contrary to common behavior. Rather than dominating the discussion on each agenda item (a temptation for ego-driven, insecure people with a title), the savvy leader merely introduces a subject, then listens for input. She observes how each member of her team contributes, debates, reasons and interacts. Then, she announces her decision; acknowledging the comments and arguments of those who’ve contributed. She’s thereby perceived to be decisive, inclusive and a powerful leader. When it comes to meetings, smart leaders have the last word.
I think my former neighbor, Judge Peter Leveque had the right attitude about humor at work. Though he passed a few years ago, he once told me that as family court judge, at Easter time every year he would don a bunny outfit and hop into the staff’s offices delivering chocolate eggs. You can imagine the staff’s belly-laughs echoing in chambers at seeing Judge Peter transformed into Peter Rabbit. And they were devoted to him. As a leader trying to strengthen staff loyalty and enhance team spirit, do you use self-effacing humor? It is a risk requiring humility, security, and courage. Those are strong character traits. Maybe that’s why, ironically, at an almost subconscious level we have more respect for those people who take themselves less seriously.
My Dad taught me a business lesson that continues to annoy me; especially when I get complacent about running my company. Incidentally, Dad founded and led an oil & gas service company and was nominated by the Royal Bank in Calgary as being one of the most successful entrepreneurs they did business with. When I started JC Mowatt Seminars Inc. over 20 years ago, Dad gave me a single word job description that would determine whether my company would prosper over the long term. The single word, “Creator”. In today’s intensely competitive economy, I see this role of creator becoming more relevant for businesses than ever. I have to admit, when I’m not creating in my job, I’m coasting. Sometimes I’m too busy or lazy to create. That’s the annoying part. How about you… are you creating in your job?
Perhaps one of the toughest challenges in relationships is giving corrective feedback to people you care about. As a supervisor, husband, and father, I’ve made my share of mistakes when confronting others – less so since discovering this tip. Focus your feedback on behavior – not attitude. Instead of saying, “You need to be friendlier to customers.” (Friendliness is an attitude), focus on behavior with, “Within 5 seconds of the customer’s arrival, you are expected to smile, show teeth, and greet them.” Avoiding confrontation doesn’t help anyone. Focus on observable behavior. As for ‘correcting’ the other person’s attitude – what they think, believe, and feel – forever hold your peace.
"Our site managers are hurting us more than helping us when they put-off resolving customer complaints.” This was a client, a senior operations manager, I interviewed for a seminar I was doing for his managers. As an example he explained, “If a customer bangs their knee on our job site, we need the local site superintendent to immediately offer to reimburse for rehab expenses. If we force customers to contact head office, they are just as apt to contact a lawyer. And with our insurance deductible being 25k, we ALWAYS pay more by delaying than we would have by just resolving the complaint immediately.” I’ve found with other clients this same strategy applies to the likelihood of customers posting negative comments online. When we train frontline employees how to resolve customer concerns instantly, they not only strengthen customer loyalty; they also improve their company’s rankings on customer review websites.