Good Customer Service starts with Communication...
Senior Business Development Manager - Elizabeth Barber
As simple as it sounds, it is so easily forgotten. Ever more so apparent in my experience recently when travelling to Italy. Two planes, a week apart – both delayed with the same problem, resulting in us sitting on the tarmac both times for over an hour. And yet, both experiences had an entirely different effect on the passengers, as a result of the communication we received from the captain… or didn’t.
On the way out, with our plane already delayed an hour – no surprise with the gales blowing across Britain – we finally piled on expectantly. The holiday hoards stuffed in – half term so plenty of children, and all the extra luggage that goes with it – the doors were shut and the engines switched on. We started taxi-ing and the safety video pressed to play. We were off at last… But then the Captain came on. “We are sorry, but it appears we are going to have to go back to the stand. It seems there is a discrepancy with the passenger list and this must be checked”. Of course some resigned sighs, and worried thoughts about missed connections. But on the whole, a relaxed forgiving mood in the plane. Once back at the stand - the Captain, in his friendly, warm, and ‘collusively’ frustrated tone announced “ Actually it seems the problem is a dent was noticed in the plane, whilst the baggage was loaded. Whilst I am totally sure this is nothing to worry about, you will understand that it is protocol to have this checked by an engineer…(blah blah) … tell me this will only be 10 minutes wait…blah blah…but rest assured I would not fly if I wasn’t entirely happy the plane was safe…” etc etc. We were kept informed, all the information we needed, pre-empting peoples angst, and in an empathetic manner.
The story couldn’t have been more different on the way back. After piling on to the plane, cramming the ove-filled overhead lockers shut, and wrestling ipads from children as the safety announcement starts, we then waited. No engine starting. No movement. No announcement. In fact, nothing.
For a good 30 minutes.
Needless to say, passengers get restless. They want to know what’s going on. Angry people start to demand for information from the crew…
The first announcement from the Captain – 40 mins later – “ This is the captain. And I will not tolerate any aggressive behaviour towards my cabin crew. I do not need to tell you that safety is paramount to us and we must check that the plane is safe before leaving…”
Turns out there was another ‘dent’ spotted in the aircraft. (I can only assume that we managed to get on the same sorry plane on our journey home.) But the same problem was dealt with in such a different way by the Captain. The first was warm, reassuring, understanding and entirely difficult to become cross with. The second was defensive, aggressive, reluctant to inform and, quite frankly condescending. None of these traits did much to help the fact that the passengers were already cross, as no- one bothered to tell us what was going on.
A small shift in focus can make such a huge difference in the customer experience. Summed up by my 9 year old daughter, as we waited on the plane home – “Our last Captain was a lot more reassuring". In this comment my daughter revealed a universal truth: that we are all communication experts and how people communicate with us determines how far we are willing to trust them.
RADA offers new Shakespeare team building activity with Elsewhere
RADA is working with Elsewhere to provide a new team building activity. Elsewhere are an uncorporate off-site organisation offering a range of imaginative and unique team building activities.
The RADA workshop, Shakespeare will Break You, is a three hour session that splits the group into teams using and excerpts from Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V and The Tempest to end with a competitive live performance.
Sitting within our other team building activities, this workshop will be led by RADA tutors and aims to develop communication and confidence skills. Find out more about Shakespeare will Break You.
Don't hold your breath - it's bad for business!
RADA in Business Tutor Sheelagh McNamara
When we are stressed our natural response is to hold the breath. Our tendency is to lift the chest and reduce the length of our exhalation. This raises our heart rate and can make us appear lacking in confidence, unapproachable and sometimes aggressive. We either play small and take up less space - or we do the opposite, puffing the chest and chin out. Neither is optimal!
Have you ever noticed that you hold your breath in any of these situations.
- When having a difficult conversation?
- When speaking to your boss?
- When the phone rings?
- When you’re about to give a presentation?
- When you know you are about to ask a question in a meeting?
- When your turn to speak is looming ominously near?
- When challenged?
- When you feel judged?
- When you’re feeling emotional or angry?
If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above then your aim should be to bring your awareness to these situations and start to change the ‘doing’ so you can put yourself in a more resourceful state.
So how can you change your response?
- First, exhale. Notice that when you’ve exhaled there is a moment, a beat, before your lungs naturally want to expand. Observe that moment. Don’t just ‘grab’ the next breath!
- Let the stomach soften so the breath can drop down.
- Then notice that your chest is no longer puffed out. Your chin isn’t jutting forward or tilted up and your eyes and belly are softer.
- Be aware that your heart rate has slowed down and that you feel calmer. This transmits to the other person and helps open up dialogue.
On a practical note:
- Avoid tight clothing and belts that dig into the waist or belly.
- Avoid tight collars and ties. You should be able to fit 2 fingers in between the collar and clavicle.
- Avoid high heels as they will tighten the abdominals and glutes and restrict diaphragmatic breathing. If you need to wear heels alternate them with flatter shoes so your abs, glutes and thighs don’t become too tense.
- Avoid overly tight underwear as this will also restrict your breathing.
- Go for a walk on uneven ground - parks/grass/trail. This will help you to engage your core muscles and help you breathe more deeply.
- Listen! Avoid the tendency to jump in. Allow others to complete their sentences and remember to breathe while they’re speaking.
- Continue breathing when the other person is arguing or being very vocal.
Sheelagh offers one-to-one coaching which can address your general issues of communication or focus around a particular aspect of personal presence or an upcoming communication challenge. To find out more about our coaching visit our One-to-One Coaching page.
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