With all the forms of communication we have out there you would think the world would be communicating better. We all know that is not true. Because we can communicate in so many ways, many of our communications aren’t complete, clear, or effective. We can type a quick text or send a quick email and get the communication off our desks or out of our heads. Often the message is incomplete and/or misleading. Then, because we are all communicating at a faster pace because of these tools, the volume that goes outbound and comes to us inbound gets us all overwhelmed and less attentive. I am probably not telling you anything you don’t already know.
As the CEO of a Travel Management Company with a reservation team dealing with these challenges every day, I would like share these three tips to ensure we communicate better and deliver quicker, better results:
The results. The goal and the result of communication are different items. The goal for many of our travelers may be that they need our help to book a trip under certain logistical requirements. For example, I need to leave at five and arrive by seven and stay near a specific address, etc. The result is different with each of these trips. The result may be one or more of the following in different priorities: it gets done within budget, it meets certain time constraints, it includes certain suppliers to leverage preferences, or it is coordinated with other travelers. Now that’s just the result that the traveler wans and the company paying for the trip has other results that they want us to consider. Often times we do not get all these details, so we ask “what has to happen on this trip for it to be successful?”
The result and the goal are often two different items. Make sure you know what the person wants to accomplish with their request and you are more likely to direct them to the right solution. I have found with so many people that their problem is not their problem, it is that they don’t know how to think about their problem. So help them understand the problem they want to solve and the result they want to achieve and better communication will result in less time with less errors.
The history. You may understand the goal and the result and that’s a great start. If it’s a large request, a complicated request, or one from someone you don’t have a lot of history with, you may need to ask about the history. What has worked before? What hasn’t? What have you thought about this before? When planning vacations it is also important for our team to understand where the traveler has gone before and what they have and haven’t liked with these experiences. When we have this understanding, a better recommendation can be made.
The tool. So many choices. What is the best way to get all of this data? Email, text, call, Skype, or in person? Often it starts off with one form of communication and then if it is stuck, your moment of truth is to stop the ineffective back and forth and choose the right tool to close the loop. If the initial form of communication does not deliver you the goal, result, and history, take the form of communication up a notch to something that uses more senses. You can read data when you receive a text, or an email, but then you may need to also hear the data and a call can bring in the tone that delivers more understanding. Then if it is really stuck, you may need to see the facial expressions also. So don’t be afraid to cut off the ineffective fashion of communication and speed the result but taking the method up a few notches.
If you think about these items and take control, you will deliver better answers in less time improving service and your results.