10 Core Competences for Customer-Oriented Communication

Frederik Imbo will share ten core competencies regarding customer oriented communication. Each a practical tip to make the experience of your customer or attendee more pleasant. Allowing you to become more effective as a seller or service provider.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Frederik Imbo will share ten core competencies regarding customer oriented communication. Each a practical tip to make the experience of your customer or attendee more pleasant. Allowing you to become more effective as a seller or service provider.


Hi Frederik.


Hello Kevin.


Welcome to the studio.




We’re going to talk about customer oriented communications and you selected ten core competencies we need to being able to communicate in a customer oriented way.


Absolutely. And those core competencies are important for everyone who comes into face to face contact with customers. Can be on a call center, can be in a shop, can be even a dentist or a taxi or truck driver. Everyone who has contact with customers. And you need all those ten core competencies to be able to excel in customer oriented communication. The first competence, the first ability, is having knowledge about your product, your service, or about your process.

Know that customers know much more than you assume they know. They look things up on the internet, they know the newest updates of products. So when they come into your shop you must excel and you must know all the extra detailed questions. You must know the answer to those sort of questions because you must show that you are an expert and you can add value to the knowledge they have already got previously.


Okay, the second one?


Second one? Well, how frustrating is it, Kevin, when you enter a shop and you are confronted with a shopkeeper who looks at you with such a face like he or she has drunk vinegar?Yes. No, I would turn around.Well, the ability we need for that is positivism and enthusiasm. There is action and there is a reaction. So when you enter the store and you see the other person looking at you like, hello, or, yes well, it will steal your reaction into a negative mindset as well. So, be positive, be enthusiastic, and you will see that the rest will follow.


Yes. The third one, what’s that?


The third one is make sure that the customer feels seen and heard.


And how do you do that?


Okay. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. You must show enthusiasm, we have seen that before. But when you enter the shop and there is a bunch of people waiting in front of you it’s so frustrating that the other one does not see you or he has no attention for you. So try to signal the customer that you see the customer and that you are aware of the possible frustration for the other person. It’s the penis principle.


Now I’m curious.


Now you’re curious. Everything that you give attention, grows. -


Okay, yes, I got it.


So, if you give attention to the customer, you listen to his question. And you really listen by reformulating what you have been hearing from the customer. He will feel, yes, seen, he will feel recognized. And that will also lead to a better communication between you and the customer.


Okay. Now we’re ready for number four I think.


Yes. Speak the customer’s language. I mean communicate in a way that your communication is adapted to the level of the knowledge of the customer. When he is a very technical person, of course then you can use technical terms. Don’t treat the customer like he’s a toddler. But the other way around goes also. When the other one is not very handy with all those technical terms then try to explain the product in a simple way as possible. When we look at the word communication, there is a smaller letter combination inside the word that says uni. Uni, the beginning of the word unity, union, connection between you and the other person. And have a look at the order of the letters, it says U N I. So, when I communicate with you as a customer, I must adapt myself to you. When you are in a hurry for example, I will have to adapt myself to you. I do not have to give long explanations, no, I will have to give preference to your need.This brings us to the fifth component.




The fifth ability is actually try to discover the need of the customer. Definitely I hate it when I am in a shop, for example, I am seeking a microwave oven - to give an example and the sales assistant starts to blurb out all the information that he has been taught in a sales training. And he explains the different between model A and model B. While actually he doesn’t know what I find important. So, instead of talking yourself, listen to your customer. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. So, be curious. Ask questions. Be interested in the life of the customer. Discover the need of your customer. Is he motivated by price? Then you do not have to explain all the features of more expensive models. Then give him what he needs at that moment.


Yes, or maybe a design or something he wants.


Exactly. When he finds a design very important then he will be attracted to that kind of information.

And he tries to fulfill that need. Okay, that totally makes sense. Number six I think we are now. -Number six is all about taking responsibility. Be honest, be genuine. Make sure that your price is correct. Secondly, keep your word. You have to know that trust arrives by foot, Kevin, however, it leaves by horse. It’s very difficult for a customer to build up trust with you. So you have to walk your talk. When you promise to do something, for example I promise you to send an email before tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock, then I will have to keep my promise. Otherwise there is no trust between you and the other person. And if you cannot keep your promise then you also have to take your responsibility. The ability to respond by excusing yourself and saying: listen I apologize because we were not able to reach that deadline and it must be very frustrating for you. So, in that manner you will have to give empathy. Which is for me maybe as a communication technician the most important technique of all the core competencies that we will find back in all the core competencies.


Okay, number seven?


My favorite.


Is that your favorite? Okay.


Love your customer. And no, this has nothing to do with what we have seen previous before, the penis principle. You are thinking about that?




Yes, dirty minds. No, we are talking here about an unconditional form of love giving something to your customer without the expectation of receiving anything back. Yes, of course Kevin, customers are selfish, they’re brutal, they’re demanding, they’re expecting so much for less money. But try to see the positivity behind. Try to see the good intention behind that maybe bad attitude. For example, someone is complaining about something, well, try to forgive his way of communicating and try to see his need behind. There is always a positive intention behind a sudden way of behaving. When people just take something and throw it away, then don’t take it personally.It has something to do with the need of the other person. Be thankful that you are in the position to have a wonderful job and even to be in the possibility to give that customer a nice experience. And, last component for giving love to your customer, is - again - giving empathy. It’s so important to give empathy to the other person. Especially when he’s not happy, when he’s frustrated, when he is impatient. When for example he says: well, it’s the third time I come here and it’s always so busy here I have to wait. Well Sir, I can imagine how frustrating it must be, especially when I hear that you as a good customer come to our shop for the third time and again you have bad luck. Well, let me try to see what I can do for you. I come as soon as possible to help you and I promise you I will give you a very good service. So, love your customer and all the rest will follow.


Okay. We’re going fast, number eight already.


Yes. Oh, we have got so many things. We have to put the customer central, the customer is...?




King. Of course.


Is he king?


He is king. But it doesn’t mean that you have to let people run all over you. Of course, he’s the king. We must love the customer. Of course, we must try to discover his need. But if he’s really going too far, if he’s going over a boundary, then you must just say: hey, listen stop. You can be hard on facts. You can say: listen, you didn’t pay your invoice. I don’t like that. Therefore, you must need core competence number eight which is assertiveness. Be assertive. Say what you cannot do. Say: listen Sir, I cannot deliver you new products until you have paid your invoice. Be hard on facts, but be soft on people. It means even when you’re assertive you do not have to hurt, you don’t have to lash out at the other person. You can just say in a very friendly but in a firm way: listen Sir, we are very happy with your new order however, until the previous invoice has not been paid, we are not able to deliver you new goods. I hope that you can understand that. I don’t know whether you have seen it but actually I gave you a kind of a sandwich, a hot-dog. Yes. -You start with a positive message, like saying: I’m happy with your new order. Then you will communicate the bad message: however, the previous invoice was not paid. And you finish with a positive message: but I really hope that you can pay as soon as possible so that we can have that good relationship we have at this moment.


Yes. It all makes sense. A lot of numbers.




So number nine already?


We are already at number nine. Be solution oriented. Be constructive. How many people say: well, I see you want this in a large, that sweater? Oh, yes, we no longer have a large. Complaining about the problem instead of focusing on what you can do. As a shopkeeper you can look in the computer and say: hey, I see that you are really very happy with that sweater you want them in large, let me check the computer, let me find a solution for that. Oh yes, here, I see that another store has still that sweater. Would you like me to ask if they can transfer that sweater to this store? Would that help you? Maybe I can give you a call from the moment that the sweater is in our shop. Would you like that?


Yes, definitely.


There is always another way to solve the issue. There is always a way to help the customer to resolve his need. Like Einstein said, logic will bring us from A to B, however imagination will bring us everywhere. So be creative and try to think out of the box by trying to find a solution for a challenge. I do not like to call it a problem. A lot of people are talking in a negative language. For example at the end of a conversation - you are the customer and you say: thank you for your service and I say: no problem. I hate that. Instead of saying, what would you prefer?


“My pleasure.”


My pleasure, with pleasure. Oh yes, that’s what I’m paid for. I’m happy to have helped you. So be positive also in your language and also there. And then last but not least.




Number ten. Do you know the difference between 99 degrees Celsius and 100 degrees Celsius?

It’s only one degree difference.


It’s boiling or not?


Suddenly the water is boiling. So this means that small, little differences can lead to a wow experience. That can have large consequences. Because it is the wow experience that will make the difference between a normal, satisfied customer and a customer who is absolutely delighted. Research shows that the loyalty of very happy customers - when you’re very, very satisfied is three to five times bigger comparing to just ordinary, satisfied customers. So when they are really very satisfied, they will be the best ambassadors for your brand or for your shop. Because 80 to 90% of all recommendations are done by very, very happy customers. So it’s really important for us that we try to create that wow experience. By giving a compliment, by doing something extra for the other person. How frustrating is it when you leave an event - your core business - and people say: well, bye. No, try to give something extra. Why don’t you give them a bottle of water for on the way back home so that they will have a last, very good, wow experience. Or you have a person who leaves your shop. He has his hands full of bags. Why don’t you go with that person or at least ask him if he would like some help with it and carry the bags to his car? All small, little details that will make the difference between 99 and 100 degrees Celsius.


Thank you Frederik. Thank you very much for all those tips.


You’re very welcome. And I do not say, no problem.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show, I hope to see you next week.