People often will tell me that customers don’t always listen or accept what they are saying, so they find it quite difficult to deal with the customer’s query. Listening to the stories and as a fellow service provider, I can certainly appreciate that customer communications can be quite challenging and daunting at times.
However, I believe that many of these situations boil down to simple misunderstandings because the customer and supplier are not at the “same pace” and don’t even realise it.
When we are the customer, we see the seller as the professional in their field. So naturally, we go to them for advice, guidance or just to buy. Yet, because they are the expert who knows their product or service inside out, sometimes they relate the details or instructions to us at a pace that is both natural and right for them.
Yet as customers when we ask questions and want information it can take a little time for us to tune into what the other person is telling us, especially if we are hearing it for the first time.
It’s like we are the “novus runner who is trying to keep up with an experienced person who can run 10km in less than 50 minutes without breaking into a sweat”. And because the supplier is so comfortable where they are at, they forget what it’s like for anyone new and they believe we can keep up. They assume we have heard everything they said.
Still, it can take a little longer for the customer to register all the information as we digest what the other person has said.
Human nature is that we question things in order to learn and understand. Sometimes we are confused and need clarification. Other times, we want more information so we can weigh up all our options and make an informed decision. Yet the seller may mistake our questioning as resistance and think we didn’t listen or won’t accept their recommendation. Often we are still processing what they have said.
Interestingly we are all customers and sellers. Having absorbed both roles, I have learnt to understand that sometimes we might be running just a little too fast. So when I am the service provider, It's like I am the experienced runner. So I need to remember to slow down, pause and allow my customer time to catch up, catch their breath and run at the pace that is just right for them even if it’s more of a walk for me.
(Needless to say I can only ever dream about being the experienced runner who has to worry about slowing down).