Customer satisfaction is a leading reason why consumers choose to work or not to work with a business. Lack of respect or courtesy between your employee and customer can be detrimental to or even kill a sale. For the optimal customer experience, employers need to teach employees to implement Compassionate Communication.
Compassionate Communication involves four concepts that encourage respectful dialogue between employers, employees, and clients. Both employers and employees need to implement these proven and effective steps in order to facilitate effective and enjoyable conversations with their customers, and keep them coming back!
The Four Concepts
The Four Concepts serve as the pillars for Compassionate Communication. These concepts will increase clarity and cooperation to promote respectful dialogue. Most importantly, teaching these four concepts to your employees will help them to understand disputes from the customer’s perspective, and allowing them to address the customer’s needs more efficiently.
It is important for the customer to let the employee know how they interpret a given situation, and vice versa. Observations should be expressed objectively and honestly.
It is imperative that employees avoid using evaluative language when explaining their observations in order to avoid coming off as accusatory towards the customer. An employee might say to a customer for instance, “I sent you an email with an update on the status of your account, but I never received a response from you.” This statement is factual and refrains from involving emotions.
Employees need to be able to be honest with a customer, without letting their emotions affect their language. They also need to listen to the customer’s observations willingly, and respond with empathy and understanding.
Needs are shared desires that every person possesses. Both employees and clients have needs, and therefore, employees should use needs as a way to relate to their customers.
A need can be as simple as food, water, and shelter, or as profound as independence, dignity, and respect. For example, an employee can recognize that everyone shares the need to be understood and treated with respect. Once the employee recognizes that they share this need with the client, they will be more inclined to listen to the customer and think about the situation from their perspective.
When needs are not met ,they invoke feelings. Feelings are powerful sensations that employees need to identify. When a customer expresses their feelings, they are expressing that they had a need that the company did not fulfill. The employee therefore should work to understand the customer’s feelings and empathize with them in order to figure out what it is the customer needs are.
A customer may tell an employee, “I’m feeling confused and excluded because your email was not written in language that I can understand.” The employee should recognize in this situation that the customer has needs to feel included, and they should work to make their language more comprehensive for the customer. Feelings should not be seen as the beginning of an issue but as an opportunity to resolve an issue.
When employees use expressive or honest language, they should always follow it with a request. For example, an employee may be frustrated with a customer and say, “I was unable to finish your project because I did not have the right materials. Will you meet with me to discuss what should be included in the final product?”
Employees should use requests to fulfill and directly address the client’s needs. Requests should be specific and should not involve any evaluative language. Employees can use requests as a way of moving forward with the client and to avoid further complications.
Teach your staff to pay attention to the four concepts of Compassionate Communication. The sooner they’re comfortable with expressing themselves openly to their clients and able to understand what customers are feeling, they will be able to fulfill customers’ needs and minimize future conflicts. These concepts and explained in further detail, along with over 100 other communication tips, in my book “I Hear You But…”
About the Author
Rick Goodfriend is the author of I Hear You But…” and has been teaching communication skills to businesses audiences and the public for over a decade. He is an alumnus of the Nonviolent Communications leadership program, where he furthered his personal expertise in these innovative communication techniques and was motivated to teach them as well. Mr. Goodfriend is also founder of World Empathy Day. It is a day of increased consciousness for peaceful communication, connection with self and others, forgiveness and acceptance. It is celebrated with participants around the world. Mr. Goodfriend also speaks at corporate events, trainings, and educational forums.