‘Tis the holiday season, when we’re interacting with consumerism far more than usual. When customers and businesses are getting to know each other, whether it’s starting and continuing relationships.
Bad communication can end them.
It’s important to understand how you or your staff are communicating, whether it’s to customers or to other staff. Every word. Every nuance. Every bit of body language is registered and is translated by those in attendance or on the other end of that communication. Make sure it’s the message you want to be shared.
I recently had an experience that cemented how important this all is.
It was time to get the latest gadget. I tend to get a little techie-obsessive when I want something. For some reason I can show a little self control in the early days but once my mind determines it needs to be in my possession, patience is no longer my friend. More like an acquaintance I forget to call. So…hello, new Apple TV Version 4!
The problem: the electronic store I was in didn’t have the product I wanted. The person dealing with me was obviously new but you could tell he was doing his best to find what I was looking for. Checking the computer. Checking the stock in the back. Obviously I wasn’t going to walk out of that store with my new toy but he was trying really hard to make sure I was happy.
When his supervisor (or more senior staff member, I couldn’t tell) stepped in, it went down hill. He was a perfect example of all things you don’t do when trying to help a customer. He glaringly demonstrated not to do these three things:
Belittle coworkers – When the supervisor stepped in to help the junior staffer who was working with me, his tone was immediately patronizing. He asked him, “What did you do…?” in a way that translated to me “How did you screw this up?” or “What are all things you did wrong?” I’m standing right here. I can hear you. You haven’t even helped me yet and I already don’t like you.
What You’re Communicating: “Your company hires jerks.”
Be argumentative – When the supervisor tells me I should go to their other big box store, which had the product in stock, I told him it was too far away for me. Well, he decided I was wrong. My recollection of travel time was obviously far longer than reality and his version of time and space was far more correct. Why was I being so difficult?
What You’re Communicating: “Your company thinks I’m an idiot.”
Be defensive – The supervisor offered to order more of my desired product and hold it in store, but I’d have to pay for it now. Something about how getting the product from another chain store meant they were no longer able to make money from the product so this store had to prove it did sell it by taking money now. Um, don’t care. At this point, I wasn’t interested in giving money, for nothing I could walk out with, to someone who already was not my favourite person. His response was “but it’s our store policy”.
What You’re Communicating: “You’d rather dismiss my concerns than talk solutions with me.”
When speaking with your customers, it’s vital to understand how your words and actions could be misunderstood and if the person representing your brand shares your voice.