Have you ever felt as if you and the person you were speaking to were having two different conversations; at the same time? Being a successful business owner hinges on your ability to converse in such a way that everyone can clearly understand you and your mission! Poor communication can often be so disruptive that we lose customers, partnerships and more. When the communication gets cloudy, things start to unwind in a hurry!
In the early 1950's, Abbott & Costello created a comic masterpiece using unclear communication. It took nearly 6 minutes for these two grown men to try and determine the names of their baseball players. An exasperated Costello finally ends the bantering with a defeated 'I don't Care' (who was the Shortstop by the way! ).
As funny as their routine was, cloudy communication in the real world is anything but funny; it can be costly as well. Consider your industry for a moment? Are there terms, abbreviations or processes that are clear to you but a bit unclear to your customers? In the merchant services world the entire industry seems to be cluttered with a lack of clarity. This past week, our team focused on a very simple question related to a simple refund. We did a quick search on the Internet and found a long blog string where people who belonged to the group attempted to answer the question. For a moment, our team was reminded of the 'Who's on First' routine from Abbott and Costello! It was hillarious and very sad all at the same time. Your customers need a place where they can count on CLEAR and CONCISE answers related to the products and services you provide: ideally- that place or that someone should be YOU! Here are a few tips to help you be the Communication Clarifier and take immediate action to stop your customers from being so frustrated that they say 'I Don't Care', like our comedic legend did!
Clarify Your Vision/Mission
When your entire team, your clients and your vendors know who you are and WHY you are doing what you do, it is more difficult to have a communication challenge. Companies that have a clear vision and mission or purpose, tend to communicate more effectively. This is a great place to begin the process of making everything you do crystal clear so you minimize confusion.
Actively Listen/Restate the Question
Our brains are designed to begin formulating responses even before the questions have been completed! Just imagine how unlucky we all would have been if Abbott and Costello would have simply reworded their questions and responses. Actively listening and then restating the questions asked by our customers or teammates clears any confusion around the immediate conversation. As a side benefit (a BIG one) we also save a ton of time by getting to the point more quickly.
Simplify Your Industry Terms
Crazy & confusing terms as well as abbreviations and industry jargon are among the easiest ways to confuse your clients and believe it or not- your own team!! Having great internal tools where your entire team is kept up to speed on whatever is going on in your industry, will do wonders to keep everyone on the same page and giving out the same information! Externally- you might consider having a list of commonly used terms and phrases added to your web site. You might even want to create brief videos to explain some of the more complex terms or processes.
Ask For Information
Your vision & mission is clear. you actively listen and encourage your team to do the same and you have added internal and external tools to help clarify your terms and conditions so you've done all you can- what else is there? You can ask your team and your customers for more feedback!
- What terms are most confusing to you?
- What processes are too complicated?
- Have you ever been confused with our products or service?
- What instructional videos would help you most?
Asking for exactly what you need from those you serve will yield the results you are looking for.
It is true! Confusion can be hysterical (click on the Abbott & Costello picture below to see the Who's on First routine).
In business however, unclear communication causes frustration, reduces profit and erodes the partnerships that
make our business life possible! Take a long hard look at your business and do what you can to Clear the Confusion: QUICK!