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Friday, July 23, 2010

THE RETENTION FACTOR: What's Behind the Words?

The Retention Factor with Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D.

Bottom line:
  • Customers want to be heard

  • Not enough to just listen

  • Acknowledge what is heard

  • Words are only 7% of communication

  • Respectful responses

We know that customers are calling for one of four reasons. They have a:
  1. Request –they want fulfilled

  2. Question— they want answered

  3. Complaint—they want resolved

  4. Problem—they want solved

But most important, they want to know they’ve been heard behind their words.

For instance, when I call with a problem or a complaint and you ask me for my account number, I’m furious. Do you know why? Because before I give you any more information, I want reassurance that I’ve been heard. I’ll even keep repeating myself until I get satisfaction that you hear me. Or that at the very least my upset, frustration, annoyance, or anger has been heard and most important--acknowledged. Once I know I’m listened to, I’ll tell you anything you want to know. But not until then.

Maybe you’ve had this experience (I don’t think I’m that unique) where you call into a company to complain about an issue. You hear “May I have your account number please?” I respond, “Not yet” and begin to tell my story all over again.

It’s not until I hear, “I’m sorry that was your experience” or “Wow, you are really upset. Thank you so much for calling us.” or “If I understand you thus and so happened. Did I get that right?” Something, anything, so that I know that I’m being listened to and therefore feel I am being treated with dignity and respect.

After all, words are only 7% of communication. How you use the words is what truly gets communicated. Body language, and tone of voice speaks much louder than mere words.

But it’s not enough to just listen or be listened to. In today’s world we need acknowledgment that we are being heard. An easy way to acknowledge listening to someone is to utter meaningless words and phrases such as “I see,” “yes,” “ah hah,” etc. This works whether in person, on the phone, both in business or in personal life.

While I’m talking about listening, it would be remiss of me not to add my favorite response. “Is there anything else you would like to add before I respond to your ____ (fill in the blank)? This gives the customer the opportunity to continue what they were presenting or to say no at which time you can then respond.

This response was one of our tips recently chosen and included in Over 100 Strategies for Providing Outstanding Customer Service: 119 Ways to Create the Ultimate Customer Service Experience as #14.

We love to hear from you. Please post your comments, feedback, questions, your own experiences, or topics you’d like to see covered in future columns.

For more information, please visit Rosanne's TNNC Bio.

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