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Being a good communicator is probably the number 1 skill you can have as an businesstraverse.com. In fact, in an interview for CNBC’s “Make It”, Warren Buffet said he only has one diploma hanging in his office: the communications diploma he received from Dale Carnegie in 1952. If Buffet attributes his success to being a great communicator, I’m all set.
Communication with your customers is important throughout your relationship. But it’s especially critical when they first engage or buy from you. Those first interactions set the tone. They can build trust and loyalty, or they can leave people annoyed and confused.
Here are some tips to improve that first interaction.
Speak their language
Learn to communicate in your customer’s language. I don’t mean translating from English to Swahili (although depending on your business that may be important). It translates what you know in a way that anyone unfamiliar with the industry or subject can understand.
Every industry has its own language. I specialize in digital marketing, so terms like search engine optimization (SEO), ad extensions, conversion rates, and pay-per-click (PPC) are part of my daily conversation. But most of my new clients and students have no idea when to start with me. When accountants talk about ESOPs or GAAP, or architects call it fenestration and tectonics, most of us are lost.
Avoid industry terms and acronyms unless you are talking to another professional in your field. Industry jargon won’t make you sound smarter. It makes you sound like you don’t care if the person you’re talking to understands or not.
Related: Change The Way You Speak To Change Your Mindset And Unlock Your Potential
Communicate about your process or product
No matter what kind of business you have, you have certain processes that you take for granted. The product you offer has certain features that are very familiar to you, but your customer may not understand them.
Real estate, for example, is second nature to me. It took me a while to understand that rushing our home selling process into a three-minute presentation wasn’t quite communicating with customers. It was all new to them. I learned to take the time to break it all down because they don’t have my experience and they don’t know what I know.
Clients or clients may not deal with you often or only once. How often does someone come to you to deal with their divorce (hopefully not so often)? How often do they need you to design their landscape or coach their business through a merger?
And for many industries, the process and technology can change a lot over time. A friend of mine used rental cars who were on a business trip all the time, but that was several years ago. When she recently rented a car, she didn’t even know how to turn that damn thing on. She didn’t know that the headlights came on automatically, or that the car would automatically turn off at a traffic light and come back on when you accelerated. She had driven cars for years, but the technology had changed dramatically. A few minutes of explanation beforehand would have saved her a lot of frustration.
Related: Use this powerful persuasion method to keep customers coming back for more
Step into their shoes
Stop and think about what your customers may not know about your process or product. Maybe it’s how expensive the process will be, how much time it will take or how much they need to participate. They may not know how much maintenance the product needs or how to work with the special functions.
Remember what other customers have asked or misunderstood. Are they usually shocked when your bill comes in? Do customers often call you saying the product ‘doesn’t work’ because they don’t know how to do it?
Maybe it has to do with the results they expected. By making expectations clear from the start, you will save both you and your customer a lot of headaches. If your wrinkle-reducing cream doesn’t show results for six weeks, tell them. If you need to give your client a lot of homework between sessions, let them know ahead of time.
Related: 6 Strategies For Leaders Ready To Make The Magic Happen In 2022
Explain and then repeat
Think about going to a doctor’s office and getting a diagnosis. Even if it’s not life-threatening, your brain is so busy absorbing how it might affect your life that you miss 80% of what the doctor says. If they break it down for you, maybe you’d understand at the time. But as soon as you get home, you realize that you don’t quite understand what was said or what happens next.
It is the same with our clients and customers. Even if you take it easy the first time, you can’t expect your customers to remember everything you tell them. Often they will smile and nod, but once they walk out the door they are full of questions. Have you ever left a car dealership after the salesperson explained all the bells and whistles of your brand new car? How much could you remember five days later?
I create videos for my clients to remind them of what is expected during each stage in both my coaching and my real estate business. You can create short videos to demonstrate the features of your products and how to use them. You can make written follow-up documents. Make sure the writing is clear, concise and not filled with a lot of detail that they don’t need.
Your initial communication is critical to the ongoing relationship with your customer. When you take the time to put yourself in their shoes and speak their language, explain your process clearly, and keep following up, that relationship is built on a rock-solid foundation.
Related: How to Develop Lifetime Customers