· Misc

Conversation – The Lost Art (part 1 of 2)

Conversations are one of the wonderful ties we have with other human beings. Along with our actions, our conversations are what connect us with those around us. Conversations are much like snowflakes, no two conversations are exactly the same. They can be serious, funny, informational, playful or impactful; and sometimes they can be many things woven into one interaction. In many instances, we may not be able to remember what was specifically said, but we can remember the feelings we were left with. Or on the other side of the spectrum, I think it is safe to say most of us have walked away from a conversation remembering every word, but somehow completely missing the point.

In the customer service world, where the focus has been on high customer satisfaction scores and positive customer reviews, we often are left with the feeling that the person responsible for delivering the customer service experience is caught in a never-ending cycle of the same questions and the same answers. We almost expect to be walked through a series of basic questions to get to the end result; leaving the experience completely forgettable or even frustrating. Have we lost the value of a good conversation by trying to achieve these high scores and good reviews by mandated service interactions? Are we becoming too robotic while trying to provide legendary service?

Let me share a very recent example. I was picking up a rental car at the Toronto airport. I have rented from this company hundreds of times, so I know the drill; the first question will be to hand over my driver’s license and credit card. When it was my turn to approach the counter, I did so with both items in hand. I provided my last name, placed the items on the counter and was ‘greeted’ with the statement, “Driver’s license and credit card”. I calmly slid the items further across the counter and the agent just smiled. She asked if I needed a GPS and I told her, “No, but I would like a map.” Several minutes passed in silence and then she asked, “Do you need a GPS?”…again, I smiled and restated, “No GPS is needed, but that I would like a map”. More silence passed as she furiously entered data in to her computer, and finally, eye contact! She opened her mouth to speak, and asked me…wait for it…“Do you need a GPS?” At this point I had to laugh. She looked at me oddly, and I told her, “That is the 3rd time that you have asked me that same question, and I have told you ‘No’ each time, and that all I need is a map.” She then said to me, “We are so scripted in what we have to say, that sometimes I forget what I have done.” She then handed me the keys and rental agreement, pointed me in the direction of the parking lot, and thanked me for my business. As I got ready to leave, I realized that, you guessed it…she did not provide me with a map!

Customer service standards are an important tool that companies use to ensure a specific quality or level of service in every customer interaction. These standards definitely add value when introduced in collaboration with how to personalize each customer situation. Conversations connect the business transaction to the relationship companies have with the customer. Conversations represent the individual employees, the company’s brand, and the value provided to the customer. In order to not sound robotic and still make sure customer service standards are achieved, representatives must be able to focus on the customer’s world, talk about ways of meeting the customer’s objectives, and most essentially, they have to create a personalized two-way dialogue with the customer.

In my next article, we will look at the good questions representatives need to ask and the importance of listening in creating a personalized two-way dialogue with a customer.

Have a great week!

Alethea Porter

Signature Canada is a leader in training employees to deliver legendary customer service while increasing sales. Since 1986, Signature’s unique training methodology has provided a measurable ROI for our customers, compelling them to return year after year. We offer Canadian companies, personalized, sustainable and measurable business and training solutions which contribute to optimize income by developing sales and service skills dedicated to create memorable experiences.