Most people feel that good communications skills are a matter of being a "nice person" - and by corollary if you go out, hire the nicest people you can find, and lock them all in a room together, you will have great service. I strongly disagree with this view.
In my experience, good service and good communications revolve around specific skills that you learn and practice, until they become habits. It is a craft, much like carving wood or playing football.
Here is a quick example, from my new book Great Customer Connections: What do you say to someone after you have just towed their car away?
I once had the pleasure of doing this exercise with a campus parking and traffic bureau who did, in fact, regularly tow people's cars away - and even though they were all certifiably nice people, they responded to this question with statements like "You were parked illegally," "You shouldn't have parked here," or "You need to pay a fine to get your car back" - just like 99 per cent of you would.
Now, tell me how someone would react to these statements. Not well, right? So, I challenged this group to do something completely different - think of things to say that *benefit* the other person. After a lot of hemming, hawing and squirming in their seats, the ideas started to flow:
"Your car is in a safe place."
"I can help you get your car back."
"It's really frustrating when something like this happens."
Guess what? When we role-played using statements like this, the other person found it impossible to stay angry! Even with their car towed away! So just imagine what a similar approach could do for your daily interactions with customers or co-workers.
I didn't just make up this idea - it is based on a powerful principle of behavioral psychology known as social cognition, where we subconsciously identify friends or foes within seconds of meeting someone, and react accordingly.
My new book is chock-full of specific, named techniques that will dramatically change the way customers react to you, all based on well-established concepts from behavioral psychology. And in this blog, I will regularly share real-life examples of what happens when you change the way we communicate with each other. Stay tuned!
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On a personal note, I am starting to ramp up the promotion for Great Customer Connections, which will be released in May by AMACOM Books. Over the next few weeks I will be starting to do radio interviews, publish print articles, and plan a visit to Book Expo America in Washington, DC (the annual publishing convention, during which I am always like a kid in a candy store!). Promotional work is always a labor of love for me, and one of the things I enjoy most about having a new book published.
Check out my upcoming activities on the book's website at (how's this for easy to remember!) www.customerservicebook.com - and I always welcome your feedback as well. Contact me anytime at rich-at-rsgallagher.com.