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Rip the Band-Aid Off Communication

Rip the Band-Aid Off Communication

It's time to come back to a very important topic in customer service and customer experience. It also falls under leadership and management. The topic is communication and transparency.

I was recently interviewed by Megan Jones, an editor for Call Centre Helper magazine. We were talking about how to turn Moments of Misery™ into Moments of Magic™. Her story is an interesting one.

Megan had boarded an easyJet flight from Madrid to London. Everyone was on the plane, and the flight was about to leave the gate when one of the passengers spotted a scorpion that quickly disappeared. I don't know about you, but I might be a little concerned about getting bitten by a scorpion. The movie "Snakes on a Plane" came to mind.

The captain of the flight was notified and, in the name of safety, made the decision to take the plane out of service. He announced to the passengers exactly what had happened and what the airline would do about it, which was to get everyone and their bags off the plane and onto a different plane. The result was a three-hour delay in taking off.


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Nobody wants a delay in their plans, but Megan noticed the passengers weren't really that upset. Of course, nobody wants to be bitten by a scorpion, either, but that's not the full reason. The lesson in this story was that the captain was quick to share the news with the passengers and did so with complete transparency. I call this Rip the Band-Aid Off Communication. Let's break this down:

  • Swift Communication: When you must share bad news, communicate it quickly. Uninformed customers—in this story, passengers—who know or feel something is wrong could become frustrated. Sharing information may not solve the problem, but it gives the customer a sense of control, simply because they have knowledge of what's happening.
  • Transparency: You could substitute the word honesty for transparency, but the goal is to create trust, which is a very important reason customers choose to do business with you. Transparency requires more than just communicating a problem. It includes reasons, updates, what to expect, and more.

When I was a child, my mom taught me to rip off a Band-Aid quickly. It hurt for a moment, but it was less painful than slowly pulling it and trying to avoid the pain. Next time you deliver bad news, consider this style of communication. Be quick and be honest. Like pulling off the Band-Aid, it may hurt for a moment, but your customers (and employees) will appreciate you more.

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep's customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.

This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at Shep Hyken.

Photo Courtesy of Shep Hyken.


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