Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people was first published in 1936 and has sold over 30 million copies world-wide. 80 years later, the principles outlined in his book still remain relevant, especially in today’s age of open and enhanced communication facilitated by the Digital Revolution. We decided to revisit the publication to see what lessons can be learned and applied to Customer Care teams in the Construction industry.
- Be a good listener
Customer Care is reactionary by nature and often your Customer Care team are speaking with a homeowner who is not happy. Having the ability to be a good listener and ensure that the customer feels as though they’re valued will go a long way to facilitating a positive outcome for all parties. But what does it mean to be a good listener and how does one become a good listener?
Listen because you are genuinely interested and others will feel it
- Be attentive; acknowledge your homeowner’s input
- Encourage them to talk about themselves and how resolving the issue will help them
- Ask open questions
- Stop whatever else you are doing
- Address the person by name
- Smile! Studies indicate smiling ‘forces’ your brain into positivity mode. Positivity is contagious and your attitude will rub-off on your customer, diffusing a potentially confrontational situation.
- Pay exclusive attention; don’t be thinking about your next response or whatever else is happening in the office. Your customer should be your sole focus.
A patient, sympathetic listener will disarm just about anyone
- Complaining is often a need for attention or a desire to feel valued.
- Agree with the person, sympathize, thank them for bringing their issue to light
- Avoid turning Disagreement into Argument
You can’t win an argument
- Most of the time an argument leads to both parties being more convinced of their own position
- Even if you “win” you have made the other feel inferior and hurt their pride and generated resentment
- Agree with the other person’s argument, sympathise and they have nowhere to go from there
- Ensuring a discussion doesn’t turn into an argument illustrates that your homeowner is genuinely important to you which allows their ego to expand, causing them to become sympathetic again
NEVER say “you’re wrong”
- You strike a direct blow at their intelligence, judgment, pride, and self-respect
- You will not alter their opinions if you hurt their feelings
- Ask questions in a friendly, cooperative way to help others realise their assumptions are incorrect
- Allowing your homeowner to come to their own realisation that they’re incorrect or that a mistake has been made allows them open up and become receptive to possible solutions moving forward.
Admit if you are wrong
- Admit it quickly, openly, and emphatically
- This will end the argument immediately and encourage others to be open-minded too
- Beat the other person to the punch – they will become more forgiving of your self-criticism
- Learn to revel in this self-criticism, this can be much more fun than trying to defend yourself
To keep disagreement from becoming an argument
- Welcome the disagreement, be thankful for the opportunity to correct yourself
- Control your temper
- Listen first, let them finish and do not resist, defend, or debate. Thank them for raising the issue with you, bringing it to the company’s attention.
- Look for areas of agreement, dwell on them first
- Be honest, find areas to admit your own error and apologise for mistakes
- Ask your homeowner or resident what they think a solution might look like, how feasible is it?
If for whatever reason it appears as though the discussion is turning into an argument, ask your homeowner if it would be OK to deliberate for a day. Suggest a specific time for a follow-up and ask yourself or your colleagues these questions:
- Could the owner / occupier be right? Partially right?
- Is there truth or merit in their position?
- Will my reaction relieve the problem or just my frustration?
- Is this difficult situation actually an opportunity?
The last question is probably the most important. Spend time with your colleagues discussing the situation. Ask yourselves, “Is this a common issue?” “Is this likely to occur again with a different customer?” “How can we avoid this situation arising again?”
Identifying inefficiencies or shortcomings in your company’s policies or processes can lead to significant improvement in your service delivery. Your customers are your greatest resource when trying to improve Customer Care. Ask them what you could do better or what they would like to see in a customer care experience. Learning from experiences in conflict resolution will lead to less complaints.
To find out more about the clixifix® platform and how it can benefit both your Customer Care team and your homeowners, check out our website. We’ve also published many other helpful pieces over at our knowledge base.