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How are Your Communication Skills?

The teenager’s emergency surgery, A gut wrenching lawsuit, a life threatening disease?

How these real life stories are remembered:

Communication and Service

There are plenty of great books, articles, blogs and consultancy practices built around the teachings of effective communication skills and how that leads to a better customer service experience.  What is amazing to me is how every day there are examples in front of us to learn from and apply to our leadership at work.

The other day, a friend’s teenage son came down with a very serious condition which required emergency treatment. His son had to have emergency surgery to stop a fast growing tumor. The boy had to withstand difficult testing procedures, surgery and recovery procedures, and what amazed me is the Dad’s glowing report in an email update to friends and family telling us about the excellent communication and service skills of the hospital staff and all the professionals his family came in contact with through the ordeal.  At the crux if it was how they communicated effectively and it was a first rate experience. He was truly appreciative of the professionalism and superb communication skills of those Doctors and staff who told them what was happening every step of the way.  All of that while he was witnessing his son’s critical condition get worse. He by the hospital professionals communication skills and great service they delivered.

Another gut wrencher is the client who had a huge legal battle which ran on for 2 years, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The amount of legal bills she paid were horrendous, and while that sucked a lot of energy out of her, she kept talking about how professional her attorneys were, how smart and thorough they were, their professionalism and how they had superb communication skills when they interacted with her and during all the procedures.  This won the trust and respect of my client. She spoke so highly of them in the midst of a torturous litigation process.

A third example is the client who finally faced facts with her serious health issue, which could be controlled by exercise, eating better and medication. While finally facing the tough exercise and nutrition and lifestyle changes required, she said in an email to friends and supporters, the Doctors, Nurses, Dietician and Trainer at the gym are all so clear, and the experience with them so positive because they are giving me the information I need in a professional way so I can get healthy and strong again.

I am not saying the injury of a child or legal battle which wipes out your net worth is pleasant, but isn’t it interesting that in these examples, the professionalism and communication competence they experienced was superb. No question the technical skills of Doctors, Lawyers, Dieticians and Emergency Technicians are critical, but what these three people relate later to friends and family is how the soft skills of communications, emotional support and customer service are sustainable and memorable.

How can we apply that to every day at work? The soft skills of service and communication may be downplayed in times of economic downturn and cost cutting, yet that is what the customer/client/patient is remembering from the life threatening or gruesome experiences. What does that tell you about the criticality of working on these skills; rewarding great service examples at work, teaching and modeling solid effective communication skills, teaching ways that crucial conversations lead to successful outcomes, coaching employees on how they can take steps to make customer service and better communication skills second nature?

So lets think again about reinforcing these skills with your teams, give them the tools for effective communication, let them work with a coach or get training on these critical skills. The medical, legal and personal training staff mentioned above did and look what it did for their patient/client experience.



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