Email is an incredibly useful business tool. Customer care professionals who use an email to confirm details of a conversation or meeting are making great use of that tool. For a simple transaction, there may be no time or reason to do this. But when it’s important to cover commitments made on both sides, and to ensure everyone came away with the same understanding, it’s great to have a paper trail – even an electronic one. Writing out commitments and next steps can save customer care professionals from time consuming and disruptive misunderstandings.
When reviewing a conversation that included ‘next steps’, be sure to include a timeline. A best practice is to set an expectation that you are taking notes, and you’ll be sending them an overview of what was discussed. Sometimes customers have the tendency to hear what they want to hear. We call this “happy ears.”
Phone conversations, regardless of how clearly we try to communicate, can sometimes be misinterpreted or misunderstood. A customer may simply remember the conversation wrong – it happens to everyone. What is said in a meeting, and what is actually heard can be two very different things.
Remember to detail commitments made by each party. For example: “I’ll have the rate card to you by Friday at which time you’ll meet with the committee and have a decision made by Monday, so we won’t miss the Wednesday deadline”. Assigning accountability and specific dates for accomplishing tasks may take extra time on your call, but saves time in the long run by keeping everyone on track. Any details and reasoning that are relevant should be included in the written summary.
These may seem like common sense activities, but often they’re the things that are missed when on customer service calls. With so many phone calls and emails flying around, it’s easy to think, “I’ll remember that” or, “I’ll send that out later.” Keeping everyone on the same page is part of managing a client's account. Communicating carefully and concisely with them will build trust, build the relationship and avoid conflict.
Add an extra layer of protection for yourself and your client – put it in writing.