Customer Experience News & Trends

8 communication mistakes that cost you customers

5. Asking loaded questions

187438830Questions are critical to customer communications. Marketers and product developers need to find out what customers want next. Service pros need to fully understand issues before they can solve them. Salespeople need to uncover needs.

But some questions — or the number or tone of them — are harmful to customer relationships. Take this for example: “Are you calling again on your problem with the X model?” It’s a legitimate question, but the tone can strike the wrong chord.

The wrong questions can add anxiety, defensiveness and ill will to customer conversations, says Tumlin. So if you find yourself laying on questions to hammer home your point or satisfy a narrow personal interest, stop it. Move forward with a productive conversation.

6. Answering too soon

460493321Social media and even email interactions can lead to things being said from the hip that should never have been said.

Social media puts us on the spot to respond to customers in real time. But communicating with customers in social media isn’t like doing the same with friends. It’s a venue that needs to be handled professionally.

The key: Instead of hastily interacting with customers who are angry, posting negative comments or confused, invite them into a non-public conversation in a channel of their choosing — email, phone, IM, etc.

7. Fighting

157323768This is a communication mistake that isn’t limited to customer interactions. Getting involved with co-workers who want to fight can affect the customer experience because it will break down internal communication and hurt the flow of work.

So if you must deal with a cranky co-worker, moody boss or demanding customer, who thinks the only way to get things done is to argue the point or raise voices, be cautious.

“At the end of a conversation, the difficult person remains the same,” says Tumlin, “but often you are in a weaker position.”

You can’t avoid interaction with difficult people. So go into those situations with modest expectations for the result, stay on track, avoid tangents and know your goal.

8. Overreacting

178117470With all that can go wrong in customer communications, remember that all things will pass. Many companies that have made huge communication fumbles — think Netflix after its recent rate hike — have been forgiven and forgotten.

However, there’s a risk of overreacting — perhaps by issuing an ultimatum when a sales contract is at stake, sending a pointed email when a plea for clarification would’ve worked or responding too strongly to online or media criticism.

The key, says Tumlin, is to be the calm, controlled influence in any conversation with customers and the public.

“Bring a stick to a knife fight in order to prevent a conversation from escalating dangerously,” Tumlin says. “Try to stay serious and focused. Don’t add any new emotional material and keep the conversation as brief as possible.”

Oftentimes, taking a step back and allowing things to settle is the best communication approach.

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