How can we determine the success of a product, it’s not by how good your product is, it’s how well you communicate with your clients.
Really, it’s all about how you talk to people and even more importantly how well you listen.
Recently I was asked to do a presentation on how we at ManageWP try and build a relationship with our clients and how we effectively communicate with them. This might come as a surprise to you, but we feel very much at home when it comes to reading code and talking to each other in our own ManageWP language. We have first hand experience with miscommunication; software engineers not explaining things in terms clients can understand, or lack of empathy when talking to clients that leads to them feeling misunderstood and agitated. It has taken us a lot of practise and time to be able to tell our clients all of our ideas in a way they can understand us, in other words we are learning to speak the same language as our clients.
Communication is Information Sharing
First lesson we learnt is the difference between sharing and giving information. To give information is easy, it requires little effort, because it does not take into consideration the person you are communicating with. To communicate effectively, it is important to start sharing information.
Communication is the process of sharing information, thoughts and feelings between people through speaking, writing or body language.
The underpinnings of effective communication is language, and the language we use decides how effective we will be at communicating. For software engineers, support technicians and support debuggers it is challenging to explain what and how they solved a technical problem without confusing clients that are not as technically proficient. It is important to make things as simple as possible and explain things in terms laymen can understand.
This is not always easy to do.
The Equation We Apply To Communication
We like to work in equations, to summarise and tackle our problems. Here is how we understand communication. Take the technological language that is our day to day language, and take away tech jargon from it. There is no need to use tech jargon when talking to clients, they will just get confused by it. We take that and divide it by relevance. Strictly speaking you don’t need to give your clients irrelevant information, just answer their question with the information they need to solve their problem. Make your words count. Now, time all of that with your passion to help them and you will reach an understanding with your clients.
If you apply this equation, you will see that by default you will start using language that is more familiar to your clients, and without realising it you will start to speak in their language. This is also better known as a communication style, a way in which we share information with others through language.
As Sherrie Bourg Carter (Psy.D.) says:
Although we all like to think we’re saying exactly what we mean, that’s not always the case, especially when we’re talking to someone who uses a communication style very different from our own.
When you start using the same communication style, that’s when you will start building a relationship with your clients. This ultimately leads to higher customer happiness and retention.
Why Good Conversation Is Your Client Success
You have all seen or read those blogs that tell you that good conversation is the key to a good relationship with your significant other. This seems like good advice to me, but I can confirm that good conversation is the key to customer happiness. Clients rarely come to us happy, support deals with problems that clients have with our product. It’s our job to let them leave happy.
Before you do anything fancy and tech savvy to help them, take a step back and listen to what they are telling you. It’s often not written clearly, but you have to read between the lines.
The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.
Some clients are better at telling support what the problem is, and what they want you to do to solve it. But, more often than not this is not the case. As a customer happiness agent it is your job to LISTEN and try figure out what the customer is telling you, before you take any action to help them. From our experience it is worth taking the extra few minutes to really listen to your clients.
When you start listening, everything else will become a breeze.
Have The Emotional Connection
The most valuable lesson we have learnt over time is that people want to talk to real people and the emotional connection is the most important thing when communicating with clients. Essentially, people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s great if you can “walk the talk”, clients want to know that you’re in the trenches with them. If they can relate to you and see that you have been in a similar situation, they will feel that you understand them better.
For us, all of our customer happiness agents have their own websites on ManageWP that they manage, so they know how frustrating it is when a backup fails or you website doesn’t clone. This means they will react with empathy and clients will feel understood in their moment of need.
Technophiles Need to Become Great Communicators
Bridging the gap between everyday and technical communication styles is very often more difficult than a straightforward translation from one language to the other. Narrow field of technical expertise excludes development of communication skills. The main obstacle is lack of insight (empathy), which needs to be encouraged through extracurricular activities, specifically reading novels where one can encounter different angles of thinking. This is possibly the biggest challenge in the technological industry today. Many companies have started to employ people with degrees in languages and literature in order to help meet the needs and the expectations of those you’re communicating with.
When You Start Communicating With Your Clients …
… you get to know them and their needs better, which means you can adapt your product to suit them best. You can evolve with your clients and work together to make something that helps people everyday. It’s crucial to remember that communication is not about you or your opinion, it’s about helping others by understanding them and their concerns and adding value to their world.
That is what we are trying to do at ManageWP and we appreciate every feedback that we get, so keep them sending folks!