Communication is the exchange of ideas between a sender and a receiver. Proper and effective communication is when the sender gets the message across to the other person and common understanding is gained in the exchange of ideas. Good communication in any aspect yields to a smooth interaction of individuals. In most business organizations, especially in the customer service sector, it is used as a powerful tool in dealing with customers.
Customers will be communicating in various means – phone, email, or in person. Customer service representatives should demonstrate excellent communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal. This makes them easily understand the needs of the customers and attend to it promptly.
Yet, in certain businesses, one problem in the customer interaction is miscommunication. Representatives cannot just provide the right answers to customer’s questions because of lapses in communication. A company must be alarmed about this situation. The causes of communication breakdown must be identified otherwise communication gaps will only discourage the customers from doing more business. What are some factors causing customer miscommunications, which can put the business on the line?
In any form of communication, listening is a fundamental element. One should deliver the message and the other should listen to comprehend the meaning. Even in nonverbal form of communicating, listening is also manifested. A deeper aspect of listening is going beyond the words that come out of the person’s mouth. The tone of the voice, the facial expressions, gestures, and body language convey emotions stronger than the words itself.
Here are some barriers to effective listening that leads to miscommunication with customers:
- Making assumptions instead of asking and clarifying
- Being preoccupied and not focusing on the conversation
- Prejudices about customer’s views and opinions
- Thinking about personal issues while engaging in customer interaction
- Formulating responses in the mind even before the customer is done talking
Jargons and Language Barrier
Jargons refer to the technical terms, which are understood only be the people within the business organization but not to everyone especially the customers. Jargons are considered internal language used by employees when communicating with each other. If these company jargons will also be applied in a customer interaction, how can a company expect the customers to comprehend them? In some instances, they might interpret these terms differently, and then effective communication fails.
Business organizations dealing with global customers are posed with a big challenge in their customer interactions and that is language barrier. It is the inability to comprehend a message easily due to differences in language involving the regional accents. Whereby English is known to be the primary and universal medium of communication, accent neutralization remains to be a big issue. An American customer may have a hard time understanding an Indian representative on the phone. There are customers who just give up due to irritation.
Cultural Barriers or Differences
Aside from the language barrier, one huge factor of miscommunication in a global business organization is cultural difference. In a face-to-face customer interaction, nonverbal form of communication such as gestures and body language are very critical. Bussing may be a form of greeting for one type of customer who is oriented with such tradition, but it may be understood differently by another. The delivery of humor for a North American customer may be offensive for an Asian representative or it could be the other way around.
Cultural differences cause misunderstanding between the business organization and its customers. If this is not fixed, communication with the customers will not get any better and they may end up searching for other options on where to conduct business where they can communicate easily.
A very essential aspect of customer interaction is proper and effective communication. Any communication gap and barrier must be straightened out in order to facilitate smoother transactions with customers. If the customers experience some difficulties in their interaction because of miscommunications, they may not consider continuing the business transaction, as it is only a waste of their time. But when they encounter representatives who are able to communicate well and can understand them easily, they are bound to stay as they find convenience in handling their business dealings.