Business goals

Why Better Conversations Help Achieve Business Goals

Satisfied customers are the cornerstone of any successful business. But how do you keep them happy over time?

Would you believe me if I said the secret is in the simple art of conversation?

The conversations that take place within your organization – between your customers and your employees, but also within your own internal teams – are essential to achieving your strategic goals. Research of McKinsey found that customer satisfaction, delivered through touchpoints such as call centers, was directly related to favorable business outcomes.

Business leaders tend to focus most of their efforts on improving external communication. They invest time, money and resources in customer service initiatives. Yet they routinely fail to prioritize internal communication, and that’s where real change should start.

Learning to have more constructive conversations strengthens your business from the inside out. I have seen this happen regularly over the 20 years I have worked to support call centers. This strategy establishes a foundation for customer service and helps you achieve three critical business goals: boost employee engagement, increase productivity, and build team cohesion.

Boost employee engagement

According to a Gallup Report, employee engagement is correlated with improved customer relationships, increased profitability and productivity, and reduced absenteeism and turnover. The problem is, the majority of the US workforce (51%) is not hired.

But you can create a culture of engagement within your organization just by having deeper conversations with your team. Clarify what you expect from them and how their work contributes to higher business goals. Ask what support and resources they need to do their jobs better. Solve interpersonal problems and foster positive relationships with colleagues. By treating employees as stakeholders in their own performance and the future of the company, you cultivate engagement.

Increased productivity

An engaged team is more invested in the vision and mission of your business. When you clearly communicate your goals and gain buy-in from your employees, you are able to focus together on the targets you want to achieve.

For call centers, the goal is often to improve the numbers: shorter customer wait times, lower absence rates, fewer staff shortages. Attrition is one of the biggest challenges facing call centers year after year, according to a Contact Center Pipeline Industry Survey. As you identify obstacles within your own team, determine their root causes and discuss them. If customer service representatives put customers on hold five times during a call, do they need additional resources or training? If employees don’t show up for work regularly, is there something you don’t know? Aim for understanding.

Build team cohesion

Teams that communicate well tend to work well together. When everyone on the team knows what they are responsible for and what they are working towards, they feel invested in a common goal. Make sure everyone is clear on your common goals, whether they are team specific or company wide.

Ask for employee feedback. Do they know what their top priorities are today, tomorrow, next week? Are they aware of what the other teams are working on? Are there any barriers to communication between different teams?

Having interesting conversations at work takes practice. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Start by thinking about what you are thinking about.

When you start to feel an unwanted emotion – frustration, anger, disappointment – don’t ignore it. Examine it. What caused this? What’s behind it? Think about how your state of mind affects your actions.

2. Write down what you want to say.

Sometimes when a situation is emotional, it’s hard to find the right words in the moment. Plan what you want to say in advance. Sit down, calm down and write it down.

3. Give people what they want and what they need.

Find out what people value and what they need to feel valued. Is it recognition? Positive feedback? A simple “thank you”? Not everyone wants the same.

4. Be open and listen.

Don’t try to formulate an answer in your head until you’ve listened to what the other person has to say. Repeat it to confirm or clarify what you heard. Then give an answer.