John had heard the complaint a handful of times.
“Your office manager is rude.”
He had hired his new office manager, Seth, ten months ago. The efficiency Seth brought to John’s burgeoning marketing agency was incredible. John was the creative genius who struggled with structure, processes, and deadlines. John didn’t possess natural organizational skills, but Seth did. John didn’t have a mind for scheduling, but Seth did. John had felt like he was drowning in the details; Seth had been his life boat.
Almost a year later, though, John had heard from three key clients about Seth’s blunt and often impolite demeanor. At first, John had passed it off as a small price to pay for the value Seth added to the company. The second complaint compelled John to broach the subject with Seth. Seth had a very pragmatic explanation for that particular interaction, so John had swept that complaint aside, too. The third time Seth’s coarseness was reported to him, John sought advice on how to address it.
1. On average,
a. 26 unhappy customers won’t complain for every one that will.
b. Each of these unhappy 27 customers will tell an average of 16 other people about their bad experience.
2. This means every complaint he heard represents 432 negative impressions.
a. How many people should have to complain before he should take action to permanently remedy his problem?
b. By the time he heard a particular complaint three times, the problem may have been mentioned to an average of 1,296 people.
3. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it costs to keep an old one.
a. 91% of your unhappy customers will never buy from you again.
b. If you make a focused effort to remedy your customers complaints, 82% of them will stay with you.What John perceived as 3 complaints, could potentially reach 1,296 people. Add in the amplification of social media, and those 3 complaints could seriously affect his company’s bottom line.
With that new information, John developed a series of action steps aimed at helping Seth to adjust his responses to their clients. His first step was to have some very direct conversations with Seth about what were acceptable and not acceptable behaviors when addressing clients. Very clear consequences were laid out, so that both Seth and John knew what non-compliance would look like moving forward. He created practice scenarios to run through with Seth (deliberate practice).
John found that in clearly communicating what needed to change and why, Seth rose to the challenge easily. John’s clients were now remarking on Seth’s “new and improved” attitude, and John was still benefitting from Seth’s competencies in efficiency. Seth, too, communicated about his increased satisfaction in his work.
The key to this breakthrough was that both parties listened with the intent to understand the other. It was only after they listened, that they were able to intentionally take steps in a new direction.
Stephen R. Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
These two did not fall prey to that trap.
Have you tried listening to understand?
Onward and Upward,