6 Steps to High Powered Customer Messages

Deliver excellent customer service
Deliver Excellent Customer Service

You know the power of SNAP messages. They let your customer know about the Status, the Next steps, the Approximate timeline and the Planned outcome of what you are doing for or with them. This lets your customer easily know what to expect from the service you are providing. These are some of the most powerful ways to communicate with your customers and to drive excellent customer service.

Use these messages to set expectations, to provide updates, to dramatically improve customer satisfaction and to manage your customer relationships.

These SNAP messages are easy to put together, yet, perhaps not intuitive.

Following these six steps will help you quickly write out high powered customer service messages.

1. Write out the overall idea you want to convey to your customer.

Give a little thought to what overall message you want to send to your customer. Don’t spend too much time on this. Take a couple of minutes and brainstorm this out. Your overall idea might be something as simple as “I want the manager (customer) to know the job vacancy has been posted”, or “I want the employee to know their address change request was received and processed.” These overall ideas should be quick, simple and focused. By keeping your sentences short and avoiding multiple clauses, you keep your sentences focused on a single idea.

You will want your SNAP messages to be simple and to deliver a simple point, idea or concept to your customer. You will use this as a guide to keep you on track for the next steps.

2. Write out the Status of what you want to convey to your customer.

Draft out a two or three simple ideas regarding the status of what you are doing for your customer. Mention the status of where things are right now, today. This might be the status of an order that has been placed. The status of wait times. The status of progress or findings.

3. Write out the Next Steps of what your are doing that are important for your customer to know.

Draft out two or three simple ideas regarding the next steps that will take place or need to take place. Make a point of mentioning more than the next immediate step; mention two or three important steps, things with which the customer can connect.

4. Write out what the customer needs to know about the Approximate Timeline; let the custom know how long things are expected to take.

Draft out two or three simple ideas relaying how long the next steps will take or how long the wait is until the planned outcome, or even, how long it will be before you deliver another SNAP message to update the customer. Give a realistic preview to the customer about timing.

5. Write out what the customer needs and wants to know about the Planned Outcome is going to be.

Draft out two or three simple ideas that describe what the planned outcome is, what you are doing for the customer or what you will deliver to the customer. Be specific about what the planned outcome of the transaction or business relationship will be. Address what will be done, what will be delivered or what they will get.

6. Put the pieces together and complete your final SNAP message.

Take the ideas from steps #2 – #5 and put them together. Edit the words so that you have a nice, smoothly flowing message. Keep the total message to a few sentences; three to five sentences are ideal. Edit it after you write it out. Edit it again.

Write out your final SNAP message. Edit it after you write it out. Edit it again.

This final SNAP message is a very powerful way for you to communicate with your customer.

Use this worksheet to help you through this process.

Please note, for final SNAP statements the words status, next steps, approximate timeline, and planned outcome are not used prominently or as key words in the final statements.

What you will do is pretty simple. You define an overall idea that is important for your customer, you then draft out some notes for each of the four parts of SNAP, and finally you take those draft notes and put together a final, complete SNAP statement.

This forms a powerful message that is key to your customer communication strategy.

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Customers Want To Know What Is Going On

SNAP Question MarkI took my car to the car wash the other day. It was one of those large, full service places. You select the service level you want then give your keys to the attendant. You go into the building, pay the cashier, then wait for your car to come through the building and out the other end — totally clean.

This all takes a few minutes. As the customer, I want to know what is going on with my car. I want to know the status of things on an on-going basis. The people who built the car wash know this.

There is a wall that separates the customers from the track where my car is being cleaned. There are windows in this wall, and I can see my car slowly being moved along the track. I also see small neon signs light up clearly indicating what service is being done to the car. This completely lets me know the status of things as my car moves down the track and is cleaned.

I had been driving through mud, so the undercarriage of the car was caked with thick, red mud. As I looked through one of the windows, I saw one of the neon signs light up proclaiming “Undercarriage Blast”. Just what I wanted to know.

While there are any number of things our customers want to know, one of the key things the customer wants and needs to know is that status of things. This is where you specifically mention the status of where things are right now, today. This might be the status of an order that has been placed. The status of wait times. The status of a process or the status of findings.

I paid my fifteen dollars and was a very satisfied customer. In large part, my satisfaction was driven by my ability to see and know the status of the cleaning as it took place. I did not have to wait five minutes to see a clean car. I was able to see the status of the cleaning as it took place. I was able to know the status of things “right now”. It was as real time as it gets.

Since the undercarriage cleaning was a key need for me — I had even discussed it with the attendant when selecting the service — seeing the neon sign light up telling me the undercarriage blast was underway also told me the status of something that was important to me.

Knowing the status was a key part of my satisfaction as a customer. I know I will definitely return when I need my car washed again.

When you are a customer, is knowing the status of something important to you?

Do you think knowing the status is important to your customers?

Can you find time to let your customers know the status that is important to them?

There is a very easy way to communicate status to your customers. Use SNAP. Download a free information guide here.


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Technical Skills vs Customer Service Skills?

When you have a “business” issue to solve, where do you start? With the technical aspects or the customer service implications? I suggest  we are able to  remove more “business” issues by focusing on dramatically improving our customer service. There are many ways to do this… one way is to deliver excellent customer service with a SNAP – focus on the proactive communication side of things. Get started now. Just do it.

Both technical skills and customer service skills can be learned, coached and improved. Take a look at your past five years of seminar or conference requests or attendance. Most likely you will find that the majority – if not all – are related to technical skills. (Please note, this of course is a broad generalization and is based on both my personal observation and feedback from others – of course, there are specific disciplines, such as customer service agents where this is likely not the case.)

For many human resource professionals these seminars, webinars, conferences and other related educational sessions focus on things like FMLA updates, employee documentation, compliance readiness, defining who is a supervisor, NLRB rulings, workplace violence – these are all topics that  hit my inbox in the past week. As I work with leaders on a daily basis, do I need to know these things? Daily – perhaps not. At some point, of course. What happens daily? I engage with leaders on issues that daily require significant skill with customer service.

The issues that seem to get out of hand, or issues that I find myself dropping into in order to intervene and perform a rescue can be traced back to a service failure – generally, not to lack of technical skill. For some reason, we seem to be at ease reaching out for technical assistance. Such as clarifying the details of an FLMA decision, or verifying a pay rule. While, to the contrary, we seem to very reluctant to request assistance with customer service and related communication needs. Why is this? I have no idea.

I suggest as we continue to promote the professionalism of what we do as human resource practitioners, we shift our focus to customer service. Part of that shift is related to understanding that overall customer service goes way beyond the answering of the phone or being polite. It is related to how we proactively choose to manage our relationships with our customers. We then choose to know and act on the fact that we go beyond just doing our jobs – we make a point of doing our jobs in a way that embraces our customers.

We pay particular attention to expectations; we decide to set and manage expectations. We pay particular attention to our workflows and how they help us help the customer. We pay particular attention to knowing and sharing the status of our progress, and we let customers know about next steps, how long things will take and what the planned outcome is to be. All this is done by using our customer service centric approach to how we communicate.

Use the customer service skill to drive up your credibility which allows you to coach and counsel with your technical skills.

We are frequent, proactive communicators. We know technical skills are important, and that customer service is extremely important.

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​Listen To Your Customer

Zig Ziglar, author, motivational speaker and former salesman, is quoted as saying: “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.”

What this means to us is that we need to listen to our customers. If they are actively talking to us, great. Listen to what they have to say.

If they are not actively talking to us, we then need to find ways to talk to them. Most people will talk to us, if we talk to them. SNAP is an excellent tool for getting the conversation going.

Share the basic SNAP information, then move on to mastery — move there quickly. Use closing questions to get customer feedback. Many of your customers want to be heard. They welcome the opportunity. So, put the opportunity out there for them.

If you find some of your customers are reluctant to share helpful insights, then ramp up your SNAPs. Use repeated, meaningful SNAP messages to build and reinforce your relationship with your customer.

And, continue to listen. Continue to ask and actively solicit feedback.

Don’t avoid criticism. Look for it. Don’t avoid unhappy customers. Look for them. As Zig has stated, their messages represent a tremendous opportunity for you.

Use SNAP to look for opportunities.

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Framework for Success

SNAP Why not nowAs you master SNAP, you will see that it is designed to function as a key part of your customer communication strategy. The important principle is to have a consistent and predicable framework for keeping your customer informed.

However, also know, you can choose to master SNAP as a communication technique and you can choose to use it as core component of your business foundation. This is possible because SNAP represents a communication cycle, and this cycle can be hardwired into the overall framework the drives your customer relationships. Where your relationships with customers are absolutely critical, having a foundation based on customer communication is a strategy for success.

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