By Adam Joss Do you like flying? What about turbulence? When I fly, I often feel completely at ease. Whether I’m listening to music, reading or just relaxing, it goes smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, the plane jerks up and then down. The buckle of the seat belt bell rings. That’s when I start looking at the flight attendants’ expressions and listening to engine noises as if I really know what sound to make. Silence from the cockpit naturally makes me think the worst is happening. I find this is the experience on many flights. However, not all.
Certain airlines and pilots understand the importance of ‘proactive communication’. As such, they set the right expectations. “Good day everyone,” says the pilot. “I hope you enjoy your ride. The radar shows some choppy skies, so I go ahead and fasten the seatbelt sign now. We should have a few bumps for the next 15 minutes and then it’s smooth sailing. I’ll get back to you and let you know if anything changes along the way.” Hearing those soothing words helps me relax, no matter how bumpy the ride.
It turns out that proactive communication and setting the right expectations can help you grow your business. By proactively communicating I mean sharing information before you are asked. After all, we live in a world in which we have an enormous amount of information at our disposal. We used to wonder when the pizza delivery would come. Now we open the Domino’s app and see exactly where our pizza is. We always wondered when our taxi would come. Now we open the Uber app and see exactly where our ride is. The driver’s name, photo and rating as well.
How can you use proactive communication to grow your business? Following are some situations that apply:
On the way to a measurement or home sale. Call or text your client an hour in advance to remind her of the appointment and let her know that you would like to see her soon. Your prospect will appreciate it and be more willing to give you her order.
When dealing with material back orders. Set reminders to track the material and provide updates to your client along the way. You can empathize and share in the ‘journey’ together, and you will probably have fewer complaining customers.
When dealing with a manufacturer’s claim. Inform your customer from the outset that this can be a lengthy process, but rest assured: “I’m fighting for you. I will be constantly contacting the manufacturer and giving you updates along the way. After a while, text her or email her: “Hey Sara. I just called the XYZ company and was told the sample has been received and we have an answer tomorrow.”
On installation day. Just like you did when you scheduled a measurement, call an hour in advance to let the customer know when to expect you. This is especially useful if you give a wide window when setting up the installation appointment. Remember, when customers don’t have enough information, their mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario… “They don’t show up” or worse, “I don’t think my business is important to them.”
So set the right expectations and communicate proactively. This is a simple tactic, but one that is guaranteed to lead to better experiences for your customers. And better experiences lead to more repeat and referral activities.
Adam Joss is president of The Vertical Connection Carpet One, a multi-location dealer based in Columbia, Md. Joss is currently an ad hoc board member of CCA Global Partners, current member of the Carpet One Advisory Council and past president of the Mid-Atlantic Floor Covering Association.