In business, nothing is guaranteed. However hard your business may try, it’s almost impossible to ensure 100% customer satisfaction. The goal is to try and work on details in order to inch closer and closer to that elusive 99.99% or 100% satisfaction ratio. But in order to do that, you first have to understand which areas to work on. Our first suggestion – try and minimize and solve miscommunication between you and your customers. It’s a really interesting topic and with so much to cover and 7 whole tips to tell, let’s get to it!
What is miscommunication and why is it bad?
In your personal life, are you (or would you be) annoyed when talking with sales reps or customer service and explaining your problem only for them to offer a completely useless solution or try and explain the solution for an entirely different problem? Not so fun, right?
That’s a key example of miscommunication. The term is given to describe an interaction where one party failed to understand the other or both failed to grasp the essence of what was being said, asked for, or talked about.
Why is that bad? Well, in your personal life, if you just saw a very interesting documentary about space or history and explaining something in-depth, and you’re retelling it to your friend, it can occur when they fail to understand and you have to re-explain. That’s just life. But, when your money is on the line, if you’re frustrated, in trouble because something isn’t working and you’re missing something important because of it, miscommunication is just a synonym with time-wasting. No one wishes to waste time because a sales representative fails to understand them. Sometimes it’s just unavoidable but more often than not, incremental gains on communication outlets and improvements on communication from your businesses’ end can definitely reduce the occurrence of miscommunication. The latter, according to the study, is the cause for about 7-25% of your overall customer churn (depending on the quality of your customer service).
So, since we know what miscommunication is and why it’s bad, let’s look at how we can solve it.
1. Choose and implement the best channels for communication
Are you aware that certain communication channels are superior to others? For example, live chat, phone, and email seem to be the most prevalent choices but social media is almost always the preferred choice. However, at the same time, it seems to be the most disappointing in terms of resolutions for customers.
Take a look at the chart below.
It’s a clear indication of which option seems to be the best for the customer. Put yourself in their shoes. If you had to wait 10 or 17 hours for an answer, would you even bother if there’s an alternative with a 2-minute response time? Probably not. This is why you should definitely consider installing a live chat plugin for communication. This will remove miscommunication because it does eliminate the long delays between messages, making for more direct and responsive interaction.
Let’s look at another chart. For the United States customers, most of them do communicate via the phone but that’s not their first option. Most large companies (e.g. banks, largest stores, insurance companies, mobile phone carriers) don’t even offer a live chat feature. They only give you the number to their support staff where one of the many employees in their call center will pick you up.
While this may be quite efficient and probably the best of both worlds (finding a compromise between the business’ desire to save and the customers to receive a solution fast), smaller companies should definitely prefer live chat over any other method of communication.
2. Prepare a script with a clear goal in mind
All sales reps and customer service should have a script that they can use in their work. Scripts are very useful when it comes to optimization of communication (just avoiding miscommunication put in other words). When you’re hiring and starting your own customer support staff, prepare a script for them to work on. Make sure they can automate certain messages to allow the customer to ease up a bit and not be as tense as they might show off as. A lot of the time, customers feel they’ve been on the wrong end of some issue and that they don’t deserve this issue that they’re having. This is a perfectly reasonable explanation of why they’re angry when they pick up the phone or start rambling via live chat.
Make sure you say things like:
- “We hear you.”
- “That’s so unfortunate to hear.”
- “And for how long is this issue bothering you?”
- “We’re so sad to hear this, I’m looking for a solution as we speak.”
This will help your customers to calm down, avoid the endless rambling and make for more efficient communication.
3. Keep in line with your brand voice, but to a limited extent
Your brand voice is important, and following it is important too. However, when it comes to very difficult problems, some tone of voice needs to be let go. There are a few companies that are trying to seem youthful by putting cool emojis in their newsletters, sending gifs through live chat, etc.
However, this is only good if they contact you for something rather on the trivial side. When people are angry, frustrated, or confused, the last thing on their minds is a GIF from Shrek or the 100 emoji from a complete stranger. Thus, if your brand voice is very authentic or quirky, keep away from it as much as possible whenever you are resolving serious problems. Otherwise, there’s a mega risk of miscommunication.
To help you out, here’s a chart on brand voices and their defining characteristics.
Make sure to seem as neutral as possible when doing explanations and trying to resolve pressing issues. Seem empathic, genuine, and most importantly – professional throughout the process.
4. Keep your language simple
This is important for native English speakers when contacting foreign customers. What you want to do is explain things step-by-step, avoiding difficult words or complex sentence structures. Write in short sentences. No longer than 10 words. Use very obvious verbs, nouns, adjectives. Your text shouldn’t be a Shakespeare. It’s a support chat. Make sure it’s oriented for the benefit of your customer.
Even native speakers, unfamiliar with the terminology can struggle to comprehend what’s being discussed right now. So, when employing people from English-speaking countries or someone with a C2 or even C1 understanding of this language, the main aim would be to simplify and refine their thought process in a way so that they can transmit important information without seeming unclear. That’s really just down to their own understanding of the issue at hand. If the support staff is knowledgeable about the product, service, etc., they can construct very clear guidelines on solutions. Thus, invest in your staff and help them understand the ins and outs of what your business is doing.
5. Overambitious claims
Don’t ever say things on your organization's behalf which are too difficult to realize at the moment. Too often we see businesses claiming things and failing to meet expectations. This is fairly common amongst video game developers who praise up-and-coming games without showing gameplay footage. They praise and overhype a lot of the features which will be in the game which obviously results in high pre-order numbers and a lot of interest. But, what ends up happening is that the product fails to meet expectations, making for a lot of disappointed and angry consumers.
What you have to do is set the bar high but not too high. Don’t give guarantees, cash-backs no questions asked, and don’t implement other policies if you aren’t able to fully stick to your commitments.
Ambitious claims are usually either done as a desperate attempt to gather some traction around the product/service or as a result of technical innovation. If you haven’t been working on a revolutionary new feature to help your business achieve something, don’t put out any clickbait or too strong claims. This does nothing more than increase the risk of miscommunicating with your clients.
6. Not using the right software
We mentioned live chat plugins as a great tool to have in order to avoid miscommunication with clients. However, there is also a risk of miscommunicating not only with your clients but between your employees and/or departments. If that happens, obligations can fail to be met, orders can be late for fulfillment which leads to endless heaps of complaints and miscommunication.
The first software we recommend implementing is task and project management. For in-house use, either go all out with something like Microsoft Dynamics (more suitable for larger organizations) or pick a cloud-based, easy-access solution like Asana or Trello which are more aimed towards small to mid-sized organizations that are looking for an affordable task and project management solution.
What’s the benefit of that? Well, look at the image below.
More than two-thirds of users are satisfied with the project management solution that they’re running. Why are they happy? Because it helps reduce the administrative burden of task delegation, overseeing a lot of day-to-day operations, and revising minuscule things. It’s a great way towards better customer relations and more efficient communication or a reduction in miscommunication.
This can be achieved through the simple use of the main feature of this software. An issue arises, a new client asks for supplies or anything else happens? Just delegate it via the software. Voila. You’re done and miscommunication can be avoided.
7. Track important satisfaction metrics
In the business climate of today, data is the king. The more of it you have and can process, the better your chances of being profitable. Data can be used to optimize every single process of your business, communication included.
In order to boost customer satisfaction (which is a clear result of good communication and no miscommunication), you have to ask their opinions and have feedback from them. Thus, either send emails asking to fill out questionnaires in exchange for incentives or allow them to click a few buttons after their live chat has ended to evaluate. And that’s just the beginning. Furthermore, you can launch a few different ad campaigns to see which of them receive the most engagement from similar audiences. How’s that relevant? Oh, very much so. You see, if you’re able to see what statements and what visuals trigger and interest your audience, your business can refine its ad policies and ad targeting to improve brand recognition and prestige. As you know, such data helps you communicate with your audience better and reduce miscommunication in all areas.
So, as we’re finalizing this article, it might be useful just to give a short rundown of what we’ve learned. To begin with, miscommunication always arises because customers and businesses fail to meet halfway and be in each other’s shoes. As the supplier/provider, you always have to make the first step. Implement the right communication channels and optimize their efficiency to make reaching out simpler. Next, have your support people use the script which can funnel and streamline communication to avoid rambling and very angry clientele disrupting work. Furthermore, know when to back away from the geeky, funky, or quirky brand voice. Professional and neutral is always the best way to go when solving serious issues. Keep the English simple for international and less proficient speakers. Don’t claim what you can’t do, use the right software in-house to delegate tasks and track important data in order to avoid future miscommunication!