When going into any meeting, presentation or especially a challenging conversation, it really helps to have a framework to structure your thoughts.
Barbara Minto’s ‘Pyramid’ structure is one I’ve just learned about and it’s very effectvel.
It goes like this:
Set the context, environment and go through any supporting data. Generally give the lay of the land or the key facts so far.
What’s gone wrong? How are our plans threatened and what’s the potential impact? Explain how and why it’s got to this point.
There’s nothing better than a question that you already have the answer to. Summarise the complication with a question that prompts a resolution… and then give your pre-prepared answer.
State your proposed solution. Then, explain how you go there. List as many fact-based reasons you can as to why this answer is the best way forward. If someone shoots down one of your reasons, don’t panic! Keep going through the list like a ruthless prosecutor.
At the end, take any questions and address any concerns. If everyone is on board (they should be, because you overwhelmed them with reasons to be), allocate actions so that the solution can come to life.
Even if the four steps above don’t go to plan, at least you had one. Appearing in control is a victory in itself and will help you influence the outcome more often than not.
Ignore it. Pretend like you’ve heard it all before and that you should be the one giving them advice, not receiving it. Nod and say, ‘yeah, I do that already but it doesn’t work’.
Even if we’ve heard it all before, listen. Think about why they’re telling it to you. What are their perceptions of you? What experiences have they had that you can learn from without making the same mistakes. Thank them. Ask them more questions. Sure, ignore the things you disagree with, privately. Everyone can learn something from someone else.
Advice is a gift and often helps us skip the most painful experiences because someone was kind enough to warn us or show us the way. Who can you give advice to today? Who do you need to listen to more?
Is it the robotic voices that ask you to reveal your personal details out loud on public transport?
Could it be when they pretend to check with their supervisor before coming back with ‘no, we can’t do that’?
Or is it when we are transferred to 5 different departments before someone can help?
One overlooked reason why our customers become so frustrated with our service is how we structure our teams.
The people tasked with delivering and improving what we offer (marketing) are completely separate from the team that helps support that offer (customer service). In fact, they’re not only separated on the organisational chart, but often by countries and time zones too.
As a marketer, the best thing you can do to truly understand your user’s experience is not to spend time on social media listening, send out surveys or cold call customers – it’s to spend one day in your support centre.
Suddenly, you will see the frustration gap. You’ll see why quality support staff are essential to any business and why so many businesses fail.
You’ll see where potential customers drop out, why carts are abandoned and how a 1-step process can morph into 20.