Here’s a Business Change you need to think about right now: Are you speaking the same language as your customers? I have opinions about outsourcing to far-flung countries, but today’s context has nothing to do with that.

Today being the first day of the month, we were getting ready to send out the monthly Answer Guy /  Virtual VIP Newsletter. We use a popular email management service to send the newsletter every month, and something was going wrong. I used the vendor’s instant messaging application, got a representative on line in a matter of seconds, and . . . well, I won’t bore you with the details of this friendly-but-ultimately-not-productive customer service / technical support experience.

What’s noteworthy is how badly things can go when communications are something other than careful and precise.

After not being able to solve my problem quickly the customer service representative asked me a question: “Do You Have a Program Called Skype?”

Skype is a way of connecting with people over the Internet. Voice, Video Chat, File Exchange  . . . all free, and all very effective and efficient. Yes, of course I have Skype. It happens that I don’t use it from the computer I was working on, however, and assuming she wanted to watch what I was doing my answer was “Yes, but not on this computer. Give me a moment to Install It“.

But that isn’t what this technical support representative wanted. She was thinking that if I did have Skype, it might be interfering with her company’s software. This sounds unlikely to me, but the point is that she had asked me a question without context, and I had assigned one based on my experience.

I’m not trying to blame her for the mistake. I’m also not taking responsibility for it. We were simply not on the same page at the same time, and she failed to control the issue from her end, while I failed to control it from mine.

Wait a minute: come to think of it, this was her phone call with a frustrated customer: I AM assigning blame. Her company had not trained her in precise communications, and we wasted time, I installed software I didn’t need, etc., etc., etc.

Sometimes Business Change is about making sure change only happens the way you need it to. A simple “Be Careful” fits here!

By the Way: Since we’re talking about it . . .  we’d love it if you would subscribe to Answer Guy / Virtual VIP Changes. Just Fill in this box and click!:

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