Every interaction, be it in sales, customer service, or daily communications, holds the potential to strengthen or weaken a relationship. At the heart of these interactions is the ability to genuinely recognize and address concerns. But how do we ensure our acknowledgment is heard but also felt? Especially when dealing with our customers!
We all deal with a range of customer concerns – concerns about products, service, pricing, delivery, technical issues, communication, and so on. Addressing customer concerns effectively is crucial not only for resolving immediate issues but also for building trust and long-term relationships with the customer.
For those acquainted with Carew’s sales training programs, LAER: The Bonding Process® (LAER) isn’t new. It’s a pivotal strategy that focuses on handling objections or resistance, defusing anger, building and maintaining relationships and digging deeper into conversation.
LAER begins with genuine listening. It’s not passive; it’s empathetic, attentive, and non-judgmental. You need to lean in, aiming to understand rather than merely wait for your speaking turn.
Following that, LAER introduces acknowledging. Once you’ve grasped the customer’s point of view, a fitting acknowledgment conveys that their input is valuable. Often, we jump to solutions without a complete grasp of the customer’s unique context. Acknowledging moves beyond listening to replying in supportive, summarizing, and validating ways. This is when you take credit for the listening you were doing!
However, many bypass this acknowledgment phase and are quick to offer products or services. But building a real connection with the customer requires this step – acknowledging that their concerns are truly heard and valued.
- Takes the form of a supportive statement
- Reflects concern
- Can be a restatement of the issue
- Can be a nonverbal gesture, such as a head nod or a concerned facial expression
- Builds the relationship
- Should be genuine and not scripted
Avoid these less effective acknowledgments:
“I understand!” – We don’t understand… that is why we must LAER. A better way to say this is, “I would like to understand…”
“I hear that often.” or “I hear you.” – This can make your customer feel like just another name on a list. Remember, people’s problems are unique to them.
Mere nods or comments like, “Yep.” “Right.” or “Awesome.” – Often, these are reactions and not thoughtful responses; they can come across as dismissive.
“Thanks for sharing.” – Overused and often lacks sincerity.
Here’s what really works:
- “That’s important.”
- “_______ is definitely significant.”
- “Can you tell me more about ______?”
- “That must have been challenging.”
- “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
- “I’m sure that was difficult.”
- “Thank you for bringing that up.”
- “Thank you for sharing that with me.”
- “I would like to understand that concern better.”
- “You’re right to be thinking about that.”
- “That’s a great question.”
It’s crucial to be authentic. Scripts can’t replace genuine connection. With LAER, you’re not just addressing concerns; you’re building lasting bonds. In your next sales conversation or customer dilemma, experiment with unique ways to acknowledge. Witness how these small changes can significantly strengthen your rapport.
LAER is also an excellent tool for handling objections. Recognizing that objections are a natural occurrence whenever someone is considering a decision, and handling them, does not have to be a painful activity. In fact, when tackled with expertise, they can be invaluable opportunities to deepen and invest in the relationship. Check out our latest white paper for more insights on handling objections using LAER.
Remember, acknowledgment plays a pivotal role, especially during conflicts, while managing objections, during the initial phases of relationship-building, or while nurturing existing ones. (Hint: It’s just as effective in personal interactions!)