TIP 20: Don’t Explain Things to Customers.

Does it say Google on your paycheck?

Negative Ned Says…

Ned with Question Marks above HIs Head

“I don’t want to insult the intelligence of my customers. They are adults. So I talk as little as possible. If they want an explanation, they’ll ask for it or look it up on the Internet. They wouldn’t want to be treated like children, would they? I like to keep it simple. You want to buy this or not?”

Positive Paul Says…

Positive Paul

“Good communicators can explain things in a way that does not leave others feeling dumb or inadequate. When you communicate why something needs to be done, people understand things better and are therefore more willing to comply with your request. For example, which of the following sounds better?

  1. “Here. You have to fill in this paperwork,” or “This is a confidentiality agreement. Please fill in the first two pages, sign on the bottom, and then bring it back to me when you’re done.”
  2. “I need a tablecloth,” or “I want to cover this box on the table. Could you please get me a tablecloth?”
  3. “Please move to the other balcony,” or “My mother is recovering from lung cancer and would have difficulty smelling the smoke from your cigarette. Would you mind moving to the other balcony?”

In every case, the second phrase, which explains the reason why a request has been made, usually creates a more enthusiastic and willing response. And that’s the point, right?

Also, help your customers understand your systems and policies. Your organization may have the world’s best systems for getting things done, but if your customers don’t understand them, they may get confused, impatient or angry. Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions.

Have you ever been on an airplane where all passengers boarded and the doors were closed, yet the plane did not move, and there was no communication from anyone? As you are well aware, tension mounts and people start looking around and asking one another what’s going on. Panic starts to spread. On the other hand, if the pilot made an announcement like, ‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for the delay in departure. We have six planes ahead of us and traffic control wants us to wait a few minutes before we taxi out to join them. It should be about 10 more minutes and then we’ll be on our way.’ At that point, you would relax, knowing that your airplane would be taking off shortly. It’s as simple as that. And it only took the pilot a few seconds to put everyone at ease by making that announcement.”

A Real World Example

An Unhappy Customer’s Story

“Recently, we were interested in changing our telephone, Internet and Cable TV service. We researched AT&T Uverse. We decided to give them a try and attempted to schedule an appointment. When we called the AT&T Uverse line to ask questions about the service, we were directed to all areas of the world. We spoke with customer service reps in Dallas, India, Florida, and California. After two months of waiting for installation, a tech support person informed us that we were too far from the AT&T box to receive Internet service. My husband tried to clarify the situation, since we had been informed by the local rep that it was no problem per our zip code designation.

For a week, we tried to find alternatives, but it seemed that we had been eliminated from the system. No one was interested in commenting on the issue, and didn’t seem too concerned.

We are now with another cable company, and we are very happy.

The kicker came last month when we received a call from AT&T’s customer service department asking us to comment on how we were treated as a new Uverse subscriber!

Wow. AT&T employees had many chances to explain things, but no one ever did.”

Moral to the story: Giving incomplete or no explanations of your services leaves customers disconnected – literally.

Strategies to Turn This Around

Explain what and why.

  1. Explain to customers why they need to do what you need them to do.
  2. Explain the next step.
  3. Carry out steps one and two using simple language.


Remember: When you tell people why you need them to do something, they are more likely to comply.

“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

© 2012 by Barbara Khozam Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this message may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the publisher.

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