Updated: Feb 25, 2020
Have you ever received information from a customer service rep that didn’t sound quite right? Did you ask to speak to someone else who ended up giving you different information? How did you know whom to listen to?
It doesn’t matter how kind a company’s customer service reps are if the information they’re spreading is inconsistent. Mismatched communication can erode trust and credibility and frustrate anyone, not just customers.
Inconsistencies in internal communication also agitate and confuse team members and can lead to communication breakdowns with clients and customers. Developing a reputation of consistency for your customers starts with your team communications.
At Midstate Collection Solutions, we’ve seen the importance of being consistent in our internal and external messaging. Let me explain.
A few years ago, one of my collectors received a call from a consumer, and despite the collector’s best efforts, the consumer didn’t pay his debt on that call. In fact, the consumer called back the next day and talked to a different collector. The second collector did everything right – same as the first collector – but the consumer still didn’t pay his debt. On the third day, the consumer called and talked to another collector. Collector #3 followed the same steps as Collector #1 and #2.
And guess what?
She collected the consumer’s payment in full.
When the first collector asked me why the consumer paid Collector #3 and not him, I told him it was because he did everything he was supposed to do, and his colleagues did everything they were supposed to do. When the consumer heard the same information from three different collectors, he got comfortable enough to pay his debt.
Using scripts for consumer interactions is one of the ways we create consistency at MCS. While some organizations might be reluctant to use scripts because they’re afraid they’ll sound insincere, scripts help us make sure our consumers have the same experience. (They also help with compliance and maintaining our clients’ professional images, but more on that another time.)
I also think about scripts this way: Many of us already rehearse difficult conversations in our heads. A script is a record of that.
Beyond scripts, some of the other ways we’ve created consistency in our external and internal communications have been by:
1. Following the same training process for new hires
For example, many of our tasks have written work instructions, and we walk through each of those with our new hires. This way, no matter who is conducting the training, all new team members have the same experience.
2. Setting a clear vision and expectations
During on-boarding, we provide written copies of our company’s vision, values, and team/individual expectations. This way, everyone hears the same message and understands what our company stands for and what their responsibilities are on Day 1.
3. Establishing a consistent communication strategy
All of our communication – internal and external – follows the same three-step Communication Code – validating, planting seeds of happiness, and using action statements. Not every communication can (or should be) scripted. However, having a common communication strategy to fall back on ensures our customers, clients, and team members are being treated in line with our values every time.
4. Encouraging team members to ask for clarification
Communication breakdowns are going to happen. Everyone communicates things a little bit differently, and everyone understands things a little bit differently. Not to mention, businesses go through change all the time. Rather than stay quiet, we want our team members to call us out on our inconsistencies, so we can resolve them or explain why we’re changing things up.
One of our health-care clients has a motto that I love: “Every patient, every time, everywhere.” It means you're treating every person the same, every place, every time, everywhere. That is the kind of consistency these steps can give. Try them out and tell me what differences you see!
Now I want to hear from you. How does your company create a culture of consistency?