One of the most basic principles of business is—know and understand your customer. As I was sitting in a training class one day, it hit me how overstated and underused this invaluable concept really is. I had heard it said many times— but not once had anyone taken the time to show me what that really meant and looked like.
During that particular training class, one of our instructors Janine told us to imagine this: You are living in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. You are surrounded by nothing but fields for miles and miles around. Your one main source of entertainment is cable television, to which you are subscribed and pay what you consider a large chunk of our income for. As you are in the middle of watching one of the best, most exciting games of the season-BOOM the TV goes out! Her question, “Wouldn’t you be a little upset, perhaps even angry”? I thought to myself, why yes, yes, I would!
This one exercise changed forever how I will perceive the angry, “no service,” cable caller. Why? Because I had, prompted by Janine, put myself in this person's seat and felt their pain.
While I have always considered myself a compassionate person, her lesson required me to dig to a deeper level of empathy, to truly understand the customers’ plight.
If you, too, are interested in helping your staff improve their communication skills and better connect with your clients with compassion and empathy, here are three simple steps to help you:
- Acknowledge that your customer-facing employees will encounter conflict.
Once you acknowledge that conflict resolution is an important part of your performance equation, you can then determine a plan that works for your company and employees to resolve them.
- Teach your employees your standards for conflict resolution.
It is extremely important to expose your front line to different types of scenarios in a simulated setting before they occur. This will equip them with the know how to work through varying difficult situations, both strategically and successfully. More importantly, you can instill in your employees how you would like the situation handled. This will allow for a more consistent service experience for your customers, and give you peace of mind that your customers are being treated as you want them to be treated.
- Continuously train your employees for success.
If you do not continuously train your staff, they will end up reverting back to what they know, and what they know may not always render the best results.
As human nature dictates, without continuous training, your staff members will more than likely become reactive during tough situations. Following the few simple steps above will help you teach your staff the “why” and “how” of compassionate call handling, which will enable them to professionally and proactively resolve any encounter. Ultimately, it will create empowered employees and a happier client base!