Albert Einstein once said “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”
If he could see the fast paced, techno world of today I think he would agree that his saying was very wise indeed.
When I think ‘humanity’, some words that come to mind are compassion, empathy, understanding, respect, tolerance and humankind.
However, with the coming of technology such as social media, internet, smart phones, tablets, IVR (interactive voice response or those annoying things that say press 1 for this and 2 for that), voice mail and email just to name a few, these humane qualities are being under used and under developed.
I was born before the internet! When I was a child, I learned from my parents how to answer the phone. As a teenager, I hung out on the weekend in the small deli they owned and learned how to serve customers and how to communicate with people.
There were no smart phones, email, or anything else of the e or i variety. An apple was a piece of fruit we had every day to keep the doctor away and a blackberry was a tree that many of us had in our backyards. A tablet was something we took when we were ill and an eye pad was what we wore when we had a sore eye. A Tweet was the sound of the birds in the trees on our quarter acre block and a Like was an endearing term used for a true friend.
The only technology in our house was the rotary dial telephone. If you called someone who wasn’t home, you would simply try again later. There was no voice mail or email to hide behind, no display of missed calls on your phone and no SMS, Twitter or Facebook.
Yes, technology is here to stay and it can be a wonderful thing if we use it correctly, rather than hiding behind or used as a barrier to effective communication.
Communication is what truly connects people. So that we can communicate effectively with our internal and external customers, it’s important that everyone in your organisation understands the communication process.
Primarily, the communication process involves a sender (speaker) and a receiver (listener). For an effective two-way communication process to occur, feedback (questioning) needs to happen to ensure the message is received as intended.
In a customer interaction, the listener needs to be you. You need to listen to discover your customer’s needs so that you know how to completely satisfy them.
We love it when people listen to us. It makes us feel valued and that what we have to say is important. Your customers will love it too!
The reason we can find it so challenging to fully listen is that we generally only hear one out of every seven words that are spoken. That’s because our mind works seven times faster than our mouth so while we are listening, our mind can be drifting off to think about what we have forgotten to do, what we are having for lunch, or that meeting we must get to later. Really listening to another requires practice and skill.
Listening builds rapport and trust, and is the easiest way to diffuse a dissatisfied customer.
To convey to your customers that you are listening and have more successful conversations, here are my 3 keys to communication.
- Keep pen and paper by your phone or have notepad open on your PC. As you hear the caller’s name and other details that you may not be ready for yet, take notes. When they have finished, repeat back or paraphrase in your own words the important points to indicate your understanding of their needs.
- After hearing what your caller has to say, pause for a second before replying. This will help you in understanding that they have said to make sure they’ve finished and avoid interrupting. Steven Covey, author of successful business bible, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said “listen to understand, rather than to reply” The pause will give you a moment to understand what they have said, allowing you a more appropriate response and a quicker resolution.
- Use your listening time to fully understand their request. If you’re unclear, ask clarifying questions. e.g. John, you mentioned that you received the incorrect order. Did you place your order online or over the phone?
Don’t let technology exceed humanity in your organisation. And don’t assume that your people are effective communicators naturally. If you struggle with young and inexperienced staff or customer complaints, there is something you can do about it. Contact me now for your free customer experience audit and report valued at $115.00. Telephone 0412 135 855 or email firstname.lastname@example.org