I tend to do a lot of my communicating via email. Part of that is because I don't like talking on the phone, but a bigger part of the reason why I resort to email is that I want to have a record of what was said. Email is something that can be referred back to later when I’m told, once again, that I never said what I did say.
There are a lot of reasons why communications can fail, but part of your job as a decorator is to ensure they don’t. Communicate better with customers by using these five simple tips.
Tip No. 1: LISTEN
A recommendation to listen sounds basic, and it is, but it’s also something a lot of us don’t do well. Listening means giving your attention to the person speaking and not being distracted by your phone, paperwork, employees goofing off in the background, or your daydreams. Real listening requires focus.
Tip No. 2: GET IT IN WRITING
Verbal communication is often vital in forming relationships, but it can also be detrimental when it comes to a business collaboration. When you’re discussing an order, there’s usually a lot of boxes that need to be checked to be sure both sides understand what to expect. Putting things in writing, either by using an order form or by sending an email summing up what you discussed, helps ensure everyone is on the same page.
Tip No. 3: QUESTION
Customers often don't know what they want, and it will be your job to tell them. One of the best ways to do that is by asking questions. Make sure your questions are specific and build on the answers you’ve gotten previously. The goal is to help your customer refine their request and arrive at an understanding and a vision of what it is they want and what it is you can do for them.
Tip No. 4: EDUCATE
While customers often don’t know exactly what they want, they’re equally unlikely to understand exactly what it is you can do. Part of your job is to teach them what is and isn’t possible when it comes to the decoration techniques you offer. Some businesses do this by having a sample book or a sample wall, while others explain, on a case by case basis, why this or that is or isn't possible. Some companies create Pinterest boards to showcase work they’ve done in the past and help potential customers visualize and create ideas. The method used isn’t super important, just as long as you're helping the customer understand what's doable.
Tip No. 5: BE POSITIVE
On a bad day when you just want everyone to leave you alone, it’s easy to answer the phone with a snarl or to be short with a customer who wants to discuss an order, but that’s what you need to avoid. Keep every communication with a customer positive, be attentive and smile, and give the impression you have all the time in the world for whatever they need.
Customers are the people that keep our businesses running. They deserve our A-game at every interaction.