Because I spend a good deal of time writing and speaking to groups of people of all ages, jobs and life styles I am very aware of both negative and positive effects of good and bad communication on clients and audiences.
Over the last few weeks I have personally been involved with both of these. One very large organisation where I have been a customer for over 20 years has been treating me very badly – not returning telephone calls, promising compensation for failure to keep appointments at my home to carry out essential repairs which I had thought were part of my contract with them which they later denied.
Without going into too much detail I should say represent dreadful ‘customer care’ while the other large company who did not know me at all represented very high level of both customer care and communication. These issues were centred round a vital piece of equipment in my home. What happened next proved to me excellent communication going that ‘extra mile’ and persevering until the difficult job had been done underlined the contrast between the two organisations. The import part which was needed is no longer made. Instead of saying they could not help (for which the company could in no way be blamed, they did not know me) they searched the country to see if they could find the part. They were successful. Not only did their engineer arrive on time but when some parts inside the equipment broke when the old part was being dismantled the local engineer went to immense trouble to make new ones. The company charged me the minimum price.
If you are still with me – which company am I recommending to others? No contest as I said to the Managing Director who had, incidentally, telephoned me more than once to keep me informed of progress throughout.
During my many years spent as a politician and simultaneously as a Business Studies lecturer I found that the more I developed empathy with others – even in politics where colleagues were in some cases diametrically opposed to each other in terms of beliefs and policies a calm, though determined use of voice and mannerisms and listening encouraged listening on both sides.
With students I made it my business early in the first term to learn everyone’s names. So instead of having to say ‘you in the third row’ I could ask ‘John what do you think about this?’ rapport was more quickly developed.
Strangely some people find it hard to believe addressing business audiences and appearing on lively never fazed me. In fact, one constituency chairman used to refer to me, his candidate, as a ‘wee gnaf’ I chose to accept this soubriquet as a term of affection. Mind you, my to say mother always said I was born talking!!
I keep learning communication skills – eg selling copies of my first published novel to taxi drivers, shop assistants and others who I have never met. With a rare burst of modesty I will not give the title here.
If you have enjoyed reading this and agree or disagree with me thank you for staying to the end.