Are they your weakest link?
Ring, ring…. Ring, ring…. Ring, ring….
“Good morning, you’re through to Acme Applied Applications, how can I help you?”
So far, so good. But although the receptionist is saying what s/he is thinking, what YOU hear is:
“…. morning, you’re through to A’mee-‘plied-‘cations… how ‘ann-ee-‘elp you?”
Oh dear. ARE you through to the right company? Is the receptionist listening to your reply and will your call be correctly directed to the person to whom you wish to speak?
Not a great first impression and first impressions, last.
These first moments of contact between an organisation and its potential customers are crucial to a successful business relationship. So much marketing investment is made to encourage someone to contact your organisation and make an enquiry, so it is imperative that your representative makes a great impression.
Because we often say the same thing, time after time after time, we can be numbed to its real meaning and just repeat the words.
Just like a performer on the stage, it is important to treat every single performance as if it were the first one. After all, the audience is completely new and fresh to each production and the actor, or presenter, owes it to the listener to speak to them as though they were the first person ever to have heard what you have to say.
In other words, you need to make a real connection with the person you’re talking to, in order for them to feel a real connection with you – and therefore listen to what you are saying.
“Have a nice day,” is a phrase often used now in the UK having made its way over from the USA. If you are wishing someone a nice day, think about what you are actually saying and care about it. Your voice gives away your inner thoughts and if you’re distracted or absent from the sense of what you’re saying, the listener knows you’re just repeating words without the slightest care about their wellbeing.
Three ways to improve the impact of your speech
- Speak clearly and at an appropriate speed. If the name of your organisation is so familiar to you that you just rattle through it, take time to slow down and say the individual words clearly. Make sure you pronounce each part of the name, including final letter sounds, such as ’T’ or ‘D’.
Experience teaches that being spoken to clearly, taking time to honour all the sounds in the words you speak, will make the listener feel connected to the speaker and basically, will make them feel better. So, if you want to make a good first impression, speak more slowly and clearly and ensure those who represent your organisation do the same.
- Be aware that the person listening to you has called to get vital information about your organisation, product or service. You (or your representative) owe it to this prospect to explain with clarity. Most of all, bring a freshness to your words and remember that unlike you, the listener has never heard this information before. Don’t rush through the key benefits just because they come so easily to mind… take time to speak clearly and be interested in the other person.
- Put yourself in the listeners’ shoes and ensure you mean what you say. Instead of saying blandly, “This will help to speed up the connection time” (for example), first think about what you are about to say and remember how precious time is as a commodity, to all of us, and then say – to that person – in the moment – mean it! “This will help to speed up the connection time.” You may find yourself then adding words such as ‘really’ and ‘for you’, so your speech becomes more genuine, “This will really help to speed up the connection time for you.”
It is very possible that you will discover that your body language will also kick-in, supporting and giving truth to your words and you begin to feel a connection with the person you are speaking to, rather than being ‘absent’ or on autopilot.
In our everyday lives we can experience better or worse communicators. In car show rooms, for example, coming to collect the car for which we have paid thousands of pounds, the salesperson throws words carelessly over their shoulder, in your general direction: “Yeah, I’ll be with you in a minute” as they head towards someone else’s office. It makes you feel trivial, belittled and very unimportant. Then, as you recall how much money you are spending, other emotions such as indignation, annoyance and then deep irritation, if not anger, rise to the surface and a cancelled car deal could be on the cards.
Making time for our customers and potential customers is so very important and is so fundamental, it shouldn’t need spelling out really, but it really does need to be called out and improved. The way we all speak to each other (internal as well as external customers) has a significant impact on how we feel and our subsequent behaviour. The more thoughtfully we speak to each other, the better the chances of positively influencing each other’s emotions and actions.
Get rid of the Weakest Link! Make sure your organisation maximises the amazing power of its voice. Make sure everyone who is the voice of your organisation is the strongest link. Invest in upgrading the skills of customer-facing staff to ensure they are representing you in the most positive way.
For more information on how to achieve the best ‘Voice for the Office’, get in touch.