Most people detest bad customer service. As for me, I hate it. And if you’ve follow my regular column right here on BellaNaija, you will notice that I write a lot on customer service issues, as it affects small businesses. You can find some here, here and here. So imagine my absolute horror when a potential customer left a comment last week, that they’ve tried contacting my team since Nov 2015 with no adequate response! Saying I was shocked is an understatement.
What did I do? I immediately apologised to the customer in question. (Yes, that’s expected). I then reached out to the rest of the team via email to find out what happened (also expected). But my email, on reflection, I felt I went over the top and became a keyboard warrior! I allowed my emotions get the better of me. I actually put this line in my email “I’m not smiling while typing this”. That was totally unnecessary. That’s definitely not how to communicate when things go wrong.
And things will go wrong. In business like life, the unexpected happens. But how you communicate within your team is very important as it can set the wrong tone and culture for your firm. Communication binds collaboration. However, it should be built on clarity, conciseness and consideration.
What makes communication good?
Good communication is one that is effective. One in which the desired result is achieved. Communication can be said to be the heartbeat of any business. As it is required for the smooth running of the business. So how then do we achieve good communication in time of crises?
I am a big fan of clear communication. It is essential for communication to exhibit clarity as it removes ambiguity. The core message is never lost as it remains the centrepiece. An email with convoluted message does no one any good. Do away with ambiguity. Make it clear.
It is one thing for communication to be clear and it is another thing for it to be concise. Brevity most of the time is a massive plus. Recipients stand a better chance of understanding the message. Keep it simple.
For instance it certainly doesn’t make sense to send an email to the whole firm, if it’s actually intended for a specific recipient. However, you may argue that it’s better to share the learning lessons to the whole team to “carry everyone along”. While this is has good merits and is commendable, be careful to also consider the directly affected people.
This simply means being emphatic. Do you know how the recipients will perceive your message? Have you considered that the medium can change the context you intended? Do you have all relevant information? As an example, in this particular instance, we no longer have the customer’s details – hence why we couldn’t contact. I wasn’t aware of that information when I sent my email.
In all, did I respond properly to the customer when I saw the negative comment? I think I gave a good reply. But could have I communicated better internally? Definitely! And hopefully by sharing my experience openly, others will be willing to share what they could have done in such a situation in the comments below.
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