Let's face it, good communication is an absolute must in today's modern business environment. This is because effective communication helps all involved maintain productivity and fosters a fluid working environment for everyone participating. No matter whether you are an employer or employee, the more time and effort you spend trying to build clear and concise communication with other co-workers and associates will only serve to improve your organization's output, overall morale, and promote an environment of openness and trust.
Conversely, an environment oriented around adverse communication inspires contempt and leaves employees unmotivated. Consequently, all involved will begin to exhibit signs of mistrust directed at their superiors and the organization.
Good communication is an essential cornerstone of any business that regularly interacts with customers. This means that it is absolutely essential to promote effective internal communication--that is, between you and your co-workers--as well as productive communication between yourself and the customers you serve. If you know that communication is important but are unsure of how to inspire it, the following are some tips expounding on the importance of clear communication.
Take the Appropriate Steps
It is important to remember that effective communication is not something one already knows how to do. Rather, it is a relative series of steps that require time, understanding, and proficiency on both your part and that of whomever you are trying to communicate with. You may be asking yourself, how do I get someone else to take the steps required in order to effectively communicate? Well, the best means of accomplishing this is to promote an environment where they feel comfortable to openly communicate, which is something that will become evident we go along.
Maintain Clearly-Defined Goals and Expectations
When engaging with co-workers, it is essential to convey clear goals, so that everyone involved knows exactly what needs to be accomplished, including what the ramifications are if certain things are not properly accomplished. The latter does not necessarily entail anything negative; rather, it means all involved should have a clear understanding of how their work (and negligence) could potentially impact the organization. Consequently, this understanding will give everyone a greater sense of pride in their work, as they can see how their compliance is essential to the organization's success. Further, by ensuring that everyone on your team has a clear understanding of what is expected, you will all be able to function as a unit, thereby effectively promoting an environment of efficiency that will be just as satisfying to you as it is your customers.
Concerning customers, it is essential to foster an environment of trust and professionalism. As a representative of the organization they are doing business with, it is important to be attentive to their needs and adequately respond to their concerns. Doing so will make it clear that your primary goal is helping them, and that your expectation is that they provide you with the information you need to do so. Communicate this by demonstrating active listening and asking pertinent, informed questions. Speak in a plain and polite manner that allows whatever you are trying to convey to be received without obfuscation or displeasure.
Stay On Message
Do not, I repeat, do not spout off information just to hear yourself talk. Doing so fosters resentment and damages the environment of trust you should be trying to cultivate. Instead, take some extra steps to make sure that your message is being received as intended. Ensure that you are speaking as clearly as possible without coming across as arrogant. In almost every instance, maintaining professionalism with customers is the best way to handle the situation. Further, exhibiting brash behavior is a fantastic way to breed contempt, which could ultimately cripple any outcome you are trying to achieve and dissuade customers from doing further business.
Empathy is Essential
As mentioned above, active listening and empathy encourages a productive dialogue between yourself and whomever you are trying to communicate with. Listening shows that you respect the person who is talking, which subsequently sends the message that you are there to help them solve their problems in the most expedient and efficient manner possible. Additionally, maintaining an empathetic outlook will cue you in to nuances in the other's output that you may have otherwise missed. In turn, this will make you more receptive to their plight and more effective in remedying their issues.
Refrain From Interrupting
The "listening" aspect of communication entails just that: listening. Interrupting is one of the clearest signs of disrespect, as it communicates that your thought has already surpassed that of whoever is speaking. Likewise, people tend to get even more upset when they are interrupted while they are still in the process of explaining a problem, even if you interrupt them to provide a solution. More often than not, people just want a little bit of empathy. However, if a customer becomes too overbearing, make sure to acknowledge what they have expressed as their primary concern so they do not feel like you’ve ignored them the entire time they were talking.
Be Polite to Those With Less Technical Expertise
When attempting to communicate clearly and effectively with a customer, the most important thing to remember is that we all have different skillsets that make us more or less inclined to particular areas and professions. Not everyone has the same technological knowledge or access that you do. After all, you are likely attempting to resolve their issue using a program that swiftly conveys a wealth of information in a single glance. Obviously, the customer you are speaking to does not have access to such information. For this reason, it is important to take calls slowly, being careful not to talk down to customers or speak in an overtly-technical manner that confuses them.