Do your teams have the right language skills to deal with customers effectively?

Using the right language from the outset is a powerful skill and is more likely to result in a positive response which in turn will lead to successful outcomes and satisfied, loyal customers. When you take some time to listen in to your teams’ everyday interactions with customers, and most especially the first thing they say in response to the other person’s query, feedback, or criticism, what do you hear? Is it positive or negative, reassuring or does it leave room for doubt and confusion?

We know that starting every interaction with a positive will encourage people to listen, engage and be more open to a solution-focused approach, while the opposite is true when we begin with negative information or an inkling of doubt that you will be able to give the customer what they’re looking for. Taking care with our words is vital in building a positive, constructive and solution-focused response to anything that comes our way at work.

Awareness and understanding of your teams’ approach to the customer from the outset will help you to gain invaluable insight so that you can endorse the positives and plan to support and develop the improvements needed for everyone to demonstrate consistent use of positive, solution-focused language.

In order to understand the incredible power of positive communication, it’s important to take a moment to consider some of the things to watch out for in our communication with others, including language ‘traps’, and positives that are negatively framed. These can easily block the flow.

Try this…

Listen in closely to your teams to see if any of these phrases feature within the communications you hear, particularly in a first or initial response:

  • I can’t promise…
  • I’ll try my best…
  • Unfortunately…
  • Don’t worry…
  • No problem/no worries…
  • That’s because…
  • It might be possible
  • I’m not sure…
  • I should be able to help…

If you hear any or the majority of these in any of your customer service teams’ communication with others, it’s time to review your people’s awareness, understanding and use of positive language so that you can come up with an urgent plan of action to create much more successful and productive outcomes.

Ensuring your people are equipped with the skills and confidence to re-phrase their response in a more positive way can significantly improve your customers’ experiences. With the right training and understanding, focusing on what is possible first is centred around having the right mindset and language skills. As a simple example, let’s look more closely at one of the suboptimal initial responses on the Checklist above.

When we start our communication with the word ‘unfortunately’, the only thing that’s likely to follow is bad news! This means that on hearing this word the other person is highly likely to be triggered into a negative state of concern, irritation or uncertainty. Then, usually, a much more positive response will follow, such as ‘… although we can do this to help you’. Changing the order of your language and removing ‘unfortunately’ so that you begin with a way forward, a possible solution, will make a significant difference to the entire conversation and outcome.

Teams that are equipped and prepared to respond positively, constructively and with empathy to any situation, including when they don’t know the answer straightaway or when faced with challenging situations, will have some appropriate responses at their fingertips. For example, “So that I can find the best way forward – may I ask you a few questions?” clearly demonstrates your focus on finding a good solution. This will make the customer feel reassured and confident in your commitment to help.

MGI’s Mindset, Language & Actions Toolkit encompasses a wealth of proven strategies and techniques to build an Optimal Service Mindset which is then demonstrated to others through positive, solution-focused communication skills. Our tailored Learning Journeys are engaging and designed to guide and strengthen positive responses and language in any situation while allowing individual personalities to shine through with confidence and sincerity.

Having a true awareness and understanding of the potential of language and the powerful, positive impact it has on our everyday interactions with customers, colleagues and suppliers is an extremely valuable skillset that will lead to greater satisfaction and capability, and increased productivity.

How can we help?

Find out how MGI’s Customer Service Excellence Toolkit can equip your teams with the right language strategies, time-saving tools and skills to enable them to deliver outstanding service, productivity and outcomes, whatever comes their way.

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