Category Archives: Customer Service

How ‘joined up’ is your communication today?

We have many forms of social media that keep us busy (sometimes we are just busy being Stuart Miles togethernessbusy, don’t you think?).

Are we trapped inside our specialisms? Be that social groups, teams, pockets of knowledge, companies, organisations, universities, colleges, parliaments, media itself, banks, hospitals, schools, bowling clubs and more ? Are we in our own little tribe?

Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) says we are ‘blind to our blindness’, we fail to see risks and opportunities that when we think about them later (oh hindsight) we know that we could have done things differently.

Why do we do this?  What do you think?  Communication between teams, societies (be those clubs or cultures) is patchy.  Are we all too busy nowadays using social media to say what we want to say and not listening to what others are saying or even, not saying? Or are we reading between the lines to understand from our own reality? Is it just at work or is it also out there in society that we live and work in silos? Be those organisational silos (ivory towers/own realities) which Gillian Tett speaks of in her book ‘The Silo Effect’ or our own individual silos?

As a group or as an individual we like to fit others into labels, slots, or pigeon holes. We tend to understand from our own reality, from what we know and believe to be true from our own experience, or what we have learned from others in order to fit in (or not).

As human beings we do have an innate need to ‘get the world to fit’ to our own reality and many of us naturally seek out those people and those things that match our own reality. But do we listen and look at how people and systems interconnect with an open mind?  Do we ask ourselves how people connect with us and to us?  Do we examine parts of life we don’t want to talk about because they don’t fit with our reality, because we find them dull, boring or even off-limits?

Do we listen carefully to what other people say and check if what they say also fits with what they do?  Do we check that what we say fits with what we personally do? Or do we dismiss people out of hand because they don’t fit with our reality?

I’m curious what you think about the above comments and how you communicate with other people.  Please share or comment here and if you would like assistance or tips or suggestion on how to improve communication and understanding.  Please contact me.

Contact me Rosie O’Hara via the Developing Works website, or telephone +44 (0)7796 134081, +44 (0)1224 900748, +44 (0)1309 676004.

How to’s of good customer care

 

In the last post I wrote about staff not taking initiative when a customer has a problem, of following a policy or procedure. ‘Company rules are…’, this is our policy on complaints’, ‘please read this and write into our head office’. The latter often heard at airports when the passenger with the problem wants and possibly needs a result – now.
An unhappy customer becomes impatient and is frustrated, they can get louder than usual (and don’t always realise this). They no longer care about rules and procedures, ‘gimme a result – now!’. Telling them what to do is a red rag to a bull. The worst case scenario is that they will rehash old wrongs.
And what do companies and those who train people in customer service do? They teach employees to be calm, to say phrases such as: ‘if you shout at me I will terminate this call,’ ‘don’t raise your voice at me.’ Such actions merely light the fire under the potentially explosive situation. Even if the customer appears to physically walk away, they will remember. They will remember every single thing you and your organisation ever did wrong and the experience will imprint on their memory and they will tell other people.

Two solutions – as a customer it really helps to say ‘I’m sorry to bother you, but could you help me please.’ This is so disarming to most people they will help you. Even the most intractable and jobsworth people will listen and often point you in the direction of a colleague who is known to be helpful. Taking on some of the blame yourself really helps. It might not be what you really want to do, but it can help.
When you’re providing the customer service, being aware of how the customer is reacting using appropriate LAB Profile® Influencing Language is really appropriate, useful, customer friendly and will get you repeat business (at times there are customers however who make their own completely internal decisions and cannot be retained – they are a minority).
The customer knows he or she is right, it helps therefore if you are in customer service to get the aggrieved customer to listen to and understand you, start where they are – ‘I know this must be really awful for you ………..,’ ‘you may want to consider’, ‘this may be in your best interest,’ ‘may I make a suggestion?’
They want you to break the rules for them, your policies and procedures are not of the slightest interest to them. They want you to do something now. And you might well be surprised to find that at times when you’ve agreed that the situation is terrible, and used some of the LAB Profile Internal Influencing Language you may want to consider, this may be in your best interests, may I make a suggestion?. You might be surprised if you say to this upset customers, whilst I can’t get you on a flight right now, I can get you a meal to begin with (and let them know you’re not supposed to do, it’s breaking the rules just for them but you’d like to help) and I can arrange for you to use a phone privately and I can locate your luggage and I can help you to find some accommodation. Then it’s highly possible that the upset customer will calm down and will listen to you and later will let everyone know how well their problem was treated.

Don’t just believe me, try it out for yourself or ask me for some info or clues on how to find out more about this. There are tools and a tried and tested methodology.

Rosie O’Hara is one of the UK’s foremost Trainers and Consultants of the Language and Behaviour (LAB) Profile®, Words that Change Minds. Her background is in mechanical engineering and the German language – more information on uses of the LAB Profile® for Team Building, HSE, Management, Negotiation, Market Research, Recruitment and in Executive Coaching and more contact Rosie on 07796 134081, 01224 900748, or 01309 676004 or take a look at the website click here

The how to’s of poor customer care

Anyone reading this will recognise themselves in either having been on the receiving end frustrationof this, or having had customers, clients, clients, delegates complain about this (in this case you might perceive the other person to be wrong).
This is not based on one particular case; rather it’s a summary of many different experiences, many of us will have had. Ever been somewhere where your needs are largely ignored because staff is getting things done’? Clearing tables, looking busy behind a desk or counters etc? The person you would like to help you or take you seriously is too busy focussing on the task rather than the person?
When as a customer you are unhappy, no one takes the initiative to put things right. It’s more the case that it seems too much trouble, or our procedures won’t allow that (airlines are good at this).
The member of staff of whom you expect help behaves as if you are just a downright nuisance. Sometimes they make the ‘right noises’ but then later you discover they did nothing? They say they’ll ‘pass the message’ but they don’t.
They repeatedly tell you what they can’t do, without offering any alternatives? An example of this and the previous question. We had a training room booked for 7 people on arrival there were twenty seven chairs in said room and two large tables (no tables required). We asked for the tables and twenty chairs to be removed. We were told ‘we have nowhere to put them,’ and asked ’are they really in your way?’and then ‘it makes it easier for us for later.’ I was told I was being unreasonable in my requests.
The staff whoever they are follows a set procedure, ‘read our customer policy’, ‘complain to our head office’, ‘I can’t do that for you’.
In terms of the Language and Behaviour Profile this translates as – Things, tasks, objects are more important than People – who pays the wages, affects your bottom line?
Staff are reacting – they will respond, so they don’t totally ignore you, but they are unwilling to take an initiative.
The staff and often company behaviour is that they believe that anyone who does not fit their expectations is completely out of line and odd.
These are people who would rather work alone, a common hiring error – companies ask for and hire people who can work ‘independently, at their own initiative’ – this leads to people whose preference is to work completely alone, i.e. in a darkened room with absolutely no customers around to bother them. Customers disturb them, get in the way of the things they have to do, keeping the place tidy, neat, looking good, and making life easy.
Staff only notice what is wrong or can’t be done in respect of the customer or client,
The staff are focussing on a process, rather than a service. On a linear progression that has no time, room or facility for dealing with complaints. The problem with this process is these people who have been hired to follow this process are people who once they have started, they cannot stop. Hell mend you if you interrupt them. They must get to the end of the process this is how they are made.
Recognise some of this in customer service you have received, or customer complaints you have had?

Next time ways to deal with this – from both angles

Rosie O’Hara is one of the UK’s foremost Trainers and Consultants of the Language and Behaviour (LAB) Profile®, Words that Change Minds. Her background is in mechanical engineering and the German language – more information on uses of the LAB Profile® for Team Building, HSE, Management, Negotiation, Market Research, Recruitment and in Executive Coaching and more contact Rosie on 07796 134081, 01224 900748, or 01309 676004 or consider the information on this website here

 

Words that turn people off

Do you like to be told what to?

Most of us don’t usually. We want to decide for themselves. yelling at phone

Depending on how we say and do something (or don’t say and do it), our ideas will be considered or immediately dismissed by the other person/other people. When people are processing life, the world and the universe in this way, they are have an Internal Motivation Pattern.

When people are in Internal Mode, they like to gather information and evaluate it for themselves and hate having someone decide for them. In fact, they love to make their own decisions, based on what is important to them.

So here are the Top Ten Things to Avoid Saying to an Internal (or someone who feels that way)

Words That Close Minds
1. You should …… (almost guarantees they won’t)
2. I need to talk to you. (especially unhelpful to say to your partner in life)
3. I have the solution to your problem.
4. I know what you did wrong.
5. I know why that won’t work.
6. I told you so.
7. I have a better idea.
8. You should have an open mind about this.
9. Here’s what everyone thinks about what you did/do/will do.
10. No one is doing that any more.

Top Ten Suggested Things to Say to an Internal
Words That Open Minds
1. I have an idea that I’d like to run by you to find out what you think.
2. May I make a suggestion?
3. What would you think if we ……?
4. When you are deciding about X, what are the most important things?
5. I have an idea that may not be completely useless.
6. Here’s what I think….. what is your opinion?
7. You said that X, Y, and Z were important, so that’s why I’d like to suggest ….
8. Here is something that you may wish to consider.
9. Here is something that you may wish to avoid.
10. You be the judge.

It’s interesting to note the differences between the two approaches. The first list is mainly about you deciding for the other person, while the second encourages the other person judge for his/herself.

Which list ‘makes you feel better’?  Which list do you think would get you better results?

With thanks to Shelle Rose Charvet

 

For more info on Words that Change Minds please click here

Emails and Other Forms of Communication KIllers

I’ve actually posted this before on other blogs of mine, butblamer after a couple of recent new experiencs it comes with an addition.

Mails or emails and text messages can be a nightmare or a minefield, whatever metaphor you choose to use here.

Emails are missing out emphasis, irony, humour, anything that is included in telephone and face to face conversations, they are also often written in abbreviated form and can be sent off in the heat of the moment and even worse……….. they are tantamount to worldwide publishing within seconds, one click of the mouse and your comments can be sent worldwide and if you continuously forward previous emails on, someone, somewhere might read something you didn’t want them to read.

And text messages well can u txt? And cn u read txts? And I don’t even know if I’ve missed out the right bits.

With texts and emails it’s also possible to send them to the wrong person, by clicking the wrong button!!!!! And think about what happens if you always leave the previous message in there, I once became privy to some information that was classified and I only knew because I printed the email out.

Some thoughts on emails – emails can work really well for someone who is visual –that means someone who has a Visual Preference, they say things like “I see what you mean”, “show me …..”, I need to clarify my ideas”, “send me the document” or “please write it down and give it to me”. Emails can also be a killer for them, because suddenly something jumps up on the screen and there it is in front of them in black and white, or colour and they can see it! What you say to them will not always hit home.

Now if someone has an Auditory Preference – so they like to talk, like to chat on the phone, ask you “to talk them through it”, say something ”rings a bell”, think you are or are not “singing from the same hymn sheet”, then an email will possibly have little or no effect on them.

People with a Kinesthetic Preference like to do or touch, so they would possibly rather have a letter they can touch on nice paper, or even like to go for walk with you and if they like taste and smell would rather chat over a coffee or breakfast. Mmm emails not much good for them.

Other things to take into account, you have absolutely no idea what frame of mind your recipient is in when they receive the email or where they are (I recently sat next to a guy at a business dinner who was reading his emails during the after dinner speaker’s speech [a serious speech about transport]). If your recipient is the wrong frame of mind for receiving your email then you have a problem.
My tip if you want to say something important, earth shattering, vital – send a short email and ask can I ring you, can we meet and do that and then give them something in writing. Bad news by email is bad, very bad, unless you really want to annoy someone, or they generally ignore you anyway.

The latest experience from two people in the past week. I’ve gone back to them to ask something and they have replied to me ‘scroll down to the bottom of the email for the information.’ It’s not that I’m lazy you know, I would just like to be treated like a person and be given that information and to be honest that kind of reply can come across as rude.

Treat people as you would like them to treat you. Think about what you write and how you phrase what you write. Are you really clear about what you write?

If you’d like to know more contact me Rosie O’Hara the Developing Works website, or via my Coaching Website tel. +44 (0) 7796 134081, +44 (0)1224 900748, +44 (0)1309 676004. And please ask questions or comment here or contact me directly.

Words and Wheelbarrows – How to check what someone is really saying

Now I’m not writing this about the 14 linguistic distinctions – just about one of the Deletions which Wheelbarroware known in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) as nominalisations – that means it’s a process word (a verb or a doing word) that’s been frozen in time and made into a noun (that’s a naming word).

Some examples – a word like ‘Relationship’

First it can have so many meanings – it can be a relationship with a significant other, with a friend, with a child, with a customer, with a client, with a work colleague, with a boss etc. And whatever of those it is, it can have completely different meanings to those people involved in the relationship (or not).
So when someone says ‘my relationship is not right’ – we really need to start asking that person questions, not assuming we know what they are talking about. After all we only know about the kind of relationships we are in, or the ones we have known, or seen from our perspective. If we assume and give our advice, the worst case scenario is that we can lose a friend or be blamed for giving advice that was well meaning, but they may not want that advice.
To find out more about what that word means for the other person, we need to turn that nominalisation into a process and find out what’s not right for the person who made the statement ‘my relationship is not right’. So we ask (carefully, with great respect and sincerity and in a kind of the ‘pass the salt’ tone) something like ‘how would you like to be related to?’ It might seem weird, but this will give you more to work with. It might bring up another nominalisation or other deletions, distortions and generalisations, but I only wanted to give you this as a taster. You will then find you have more idea of what the person means (and you could have been barking up the wrong tree) and their relationship and what also eventually happens is that the person who was having the problem has more idea of what it is they want in life.

However some clues to which words are nominalisations – firstly there’s the wheelbarrow mentioned in the title. There’s a kind of rule of thumb that anything you couldn’t put in a wheelbarrow (and sometimes it will be a very large wheelbarrow, so for example for a ‘crowd’, a ‘building’ etc.) is a nominalisation, so things like ‘fear’, ‘love’, ‘hate’ etc. and also words ending in the following –

-ance (compliance) -ness (happiness)
-iency (efficiency) -itude (gratitude)
-ful (painful) -ment (fulfilment)
-ship (friendship) -ence (difference)
-able (reliable) -ion (depression)

You can apply the kind of questioning I mentioned earlier; sometimes it’s not so obvious what the process word/doing word/verb is, sometimes we just need to think a little about how we will ask a question to get to the root or heart of the matter, so that we understand more about what the other person is annoyed or upset or aggrieved about.

So (the following are all examples you could use, there will be others) –
Compliance – How’s that not complied with?
or How would you like that to be complied with?
Happiness – How would you like to be happy?
Efficiency – How do we need to be more efficient?
Gratitude – How would like them to be grateful?
Painful – Tell me more about the pain?
Fulfilment – How would you like them to be fulfilled?
Friendship – How would expect a friend to be?
or Tell me more about being friends.
Difference – How do they differ?
Reliable – What is someone like you can rely on?
Depression – How does that depress you?

This kind of thing is really useful, what is also useful and helps you avoid the pain of misunderstanding and misinterpreting and losing friendships, preventing the onset of World War III at home, getting to the core of a problem at work is thinking in this way:

Notice how you form your own reality, pay attention to what you are saying to yourself – this will make you more effective and successful. Also think about what you say to others, if you are not clear, if you use lots of nominalisations (and some cultures and organisation do, all the time) how will others understand you?

Always be in rapport (so point your body towards the person, match or mirror their posture, use their words), soften your voice, softer tones and phrase questions in a more acceptable way.
“I wonder exactly what you mean by that…”
“That’s interesting, can I ask you ……”

Think carefully about what you say and listen carefully to what others say and train your intuition to recognise patterns, know when there is information missing, when it’s useful to clarify meaning or open choices. Where the conversation is based on a relationship (of whatever kind) – be careful, very, very careful with the Meta Model – if not used with care it becomes a task-based process. For example if someone says “I liked that” asking “How specifically did you like it and what exactly did you like?” may not be appropriate in certain circumstances and I can think of a few!

Taken from ‘No More Bingo Dresses’ published MX Publishing 2010 more details please click here.

If you’d like to know more faster, please  contact me Rosie O’Hara the Developing Works website, or via my Coaching Website tel. +44 (0) 7796 134081 (What’sApp as well), +44 (0)1224 900748, +44 (0)1309 676004. And please comment on this blog too.

Are You Saying What they Want (Need) to Hear?

Or are you just speaking in the best way you know how, because you are an expert on your subject and after all the that’s yelling at phonewhy they want to use you isn’t it? Well yes they do. Whoever you are contracted to does want to use you and they may well know you have the technical expertise. However they also want and need (more importantly) you to listen in a way that when you answer them they know you have really listened to them.

How might you do that?

Well ask your customer, client (significant other) ‘what’s important to you?’

Then listen, listen to their words (make a mental note, write their words, avoiding your version, write their words down, or ask for permission to record – saying you want to get things right for the client).

Then assuming you have their words, you can simply repeat their words back i.e. ‘having fewer breakdowns’, ‘having less problems’, ‘having uninterrupted work time’ and add on to their words in a ‘pass the salt kind of voice (politely)’ – what’s important to you about that?

Do this three (yes 3) times.
Your client, customer significant other will know, will feel listened to and you could be surprised, as often the first thing we say is not what is really important, the more important thing comes later.
You will have much improved information with which to work and you’ll get it right for the client and be their contractor of choice.
You may also hear about problems, about things they want to avoid. The worst thing to talk about in this case, is what they will gain or achieve, because they want to know how you will help them avoid, steer clear of, not have, get rid of, exclude, move away from these issues.
On the other hand if your client wants to know about what they will gain, will achieve from your services, tell them just that.
Try it out and things might just work better (and by the way the majority of the world of work likes things to improve, be less of a problem, easier, rather than new and different).

If you’d like to know more faster, please take a look at my LInkedIn profile and some of the Slideshare presentations on my Summary there, as well as previous articles on LinkedIn or contact me Rosie O’Hara the Developing Works website, or via my Coaching Website tel. +44 (0) 7796 134081 (What’sApp as well), +44 (0)1224 900748, +44 (0)1309 676004. And please comment on this blog too.

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