In a recent survey of customer service complaints, one of the top complaints was issues not being resolved the first time. We can all relate to that. The problem, of course, is that sometimes an issue takes time to resolve, especially IT issues. Sometimes, due to the complexity of the systems we work with, multiple people or departments are involved in problem resolution. We wish we could take care of it the first time, but sometimes that’s not possible. What can you do? Communicate!

Communicate Frequently with Those Affected

Stay in communication with the people who are affected by the issue. When customers don’t hear from us, they fill in the blanks themselves and it’s almost never good. Provide regular updates via email, a quick phone call, or on a status update website.

Communicate Proactively

Be proactive. In other words, make sure you contact the customer before the customer contacts you. If you told the customer that a fix would take four hours and it turns out that it’s going to be longer, get in touch with the customer and let them know what’s going on. Even if you can’t give them a good revised estimate, touch base to let them know you’re working on it.

Tailor the Communication

Tailor the communication to the individual. Some people don’t want any technical information. Others want to know exactly what’s happening from a technical standpoint. It’s okay to ask the question, “How technical do you want me to get?”, and then tailor your communication based on their response. Also, when possible, tailor the communication medium. Some people prefer telephone, others prefer email or text. Ask for their communication preference and then use it!

We wish we could resolve every issue the first time, but it’s simply not always possible. When you can’t take care of an issue immediately, remember to communicate. Never keep the customer in the dark. Be proactive. Contact the customer before they feel the need to contact you. And, tailor the technical level of communication to the individual. Remember, when we don’t communicate with our customers, they fill in the blanks and it’s almost never good. Effective communication is the tool that helps you build great relationships with your customers, your colleagues, and everyone else.

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