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How to Talk to Your Customers During the Coronavirus Crisis

If you're reading this, you've probably heard of my Communication Code. If you haven't, what it really comes down to is using words that trigger our listeners' parasympathetic nervous systems so we can stop creating stress chemicals and start creating happy chemicals.

At my business, the Code has transformed our customers’ experiences, our company culture, and our personal relationships.

There's a lot that's out of our control with the recent health crisis, but one thing we do have control over is our words. Our words can literally create happier people.

The pandemic has affected every one of us in some way and caused a great amount of fear and uncertainty. At the same time, it has required us to isolate ourselves. This means people are entering conversations in a heightened state of fear and worry.

I believe there is even more value in using the Code in our conversations now.

For those of you who are hearing about the Communication Code for the first time, the three steps of the Code are validating, planting seeds of happiness, and saying what you CAN do instead of what you can’t do.

Let's break down each of the steps, and then we'll put it all together with a scenario relevant to the pandemic.

Step 1: Validate

Start by acknowledging your customer's needs and situation. This helps builds a connection right away.

One of the biggest human needs is to feel heard.

If you want to build instant trust and rapport with your customers and have them be receptive to what you’re saying, you need to start by validating them.

Example phrasing:

I can understand this is a challenging time.

I can see why you are concerned.

I can understand the uncertainty you feel

That sounds really frustrating.

I appreciate you sharing that with me.

Step 2: Plant Seeds of Happiness

Help your customers feel confident you're going to do everything you can to resolve their concerns.

Planting seeds of happiness is a tiny bridge between validation and what comes in Step 3.

Really, it’s no more than four to nine words that spoken at the right time plant a seed of a positive outcome.

Example phrasing:

I've got great news for you.

You'll be interested to know...

I'm more than glad to help you with this.

Step 3: Provide an action statement

Focus on moving things forward and share what you can do to help your customer out. By providing an action statement and moving things forward, you build respect and loyalty. Your customer feels valued.

Even if the solution is not the exact one the person is looking for, there’s always something you CAN do, and demonstrating your willingness to find an alternative solution can help you create a positive connection with that person.

Example phrasing:

What I can do is...

What I can suggest is...

Now, let's put the three steps together using the following scenario:

You work in a dentist's office. Some of your patients are due for routine dental exams. A patient calls in to schedule her exam for May, but your office isn't providing non-emergency care at this time.

Your first instinct might be to say, "I'm sorry, Ms. Smith. We're closed for non-emergency appointments at this time," or "I m sorry, Ms. Smith. I can't get you in until June."

While those might seem like reasonable responses to your patient's request, there' s a major problem. You're only saying what you can't do.

Here's an alternate way to give the same information using the three steps:

"Thank you for calling, Ms. Smith. We love patients that make their dental health a priority (validation). We're scheduling check-ups for June, and the great news is (seed of happiness), I have an opening June 1 (action statement )."

True human connection must be top of mind in times like these. Words have the power to fuel that connection or drive disconnection.

Try the Code out in your conversations, and let me know what differences you see.

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