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13 Steps to Keeping both Internal and External Customers Happy through Effective Communication

Author:  John Chapin
Most problems and complaints both outside and inside your company arise from poor communication. Poor communication most often results from either miscommunication or a lack of communication. Below are thirteen steps to ensure you communicate effectively.
1.       Have a clear objective for your communication.
The key in this first step is to stop and think about what message you’re trying to convey and how you can maximize the results of your communication.
2.       Decide what form of communication is most appropriate.
Is it more appropriate to communicate verbally or through written means? Should you send an e-mail, should you pick up the phone, or should you visit the individual in person?
3.       Prepare for your communication.
Make sure you have all your facts straight and decide what you want to say. Prioritize the various points and put them in order from most to least important. In addition to preparing to present your communication, prepare for how your communication will be received. What are the possible reactions and how will you respond to those reactions?
4.       Be direct and specific.
Use as few words as possible while still giving all the detail necessary. Include the who, what, where, why, how, and under what conditions.
5.       Whenever possible, communicate directly with the person or people you want to get your message out to.
When you ask someone to give information to someone else, your message will not have the same meaning as if you deliver it yourself. The message may be only slightly different, but it will be different. In addition, you may give the recipient the impression that he is not important enough for you to take the time to deliver the message personally. Gauge the importance of the message. If the message is important, deliver it yourself, if it is not of major importance, you can delegate it—just make sure the person ultimately delivering the message is clear about the point you’re trying to convey.
6.       When you want someone to do something, ask directly.
Ask him to do it, explain what the objective of the task is, and let him know why the task is important. When you ask in this way, you show consideration for the other person and make him feel important. As a result, the person will generally do a better job for you.
7.       Document communication when appropriate.
Having the facts in black and white will make sure everyone has the same understanding and is on the same page. This will also help establish responsibility and a timeline.
8.       Communicate often.
A lack of communication can lead to problems. When you don’t communicate with someone, you begin to slowly grow apart from him.
9.       Don’t avoid communicating bad news.
One of the biggest customer complaints is a lack of communication. Letting bad news sit can only make the situation worse. People realize that things won’t always go perfectly, and while they won’t be happy to hear bad news, the majority will appreciate it.
10.   If you are communicating about a problem or challenge, go into the conversation with some solutions.
If the situation puts you in a position where you need to compromise, know in advance what you are looking for, how far you are willing to bend, and what you are willing to accept.
11.   Don’t argue or find blame.
Try to take a team approach to the problem and put yourself on the same side of the table as those you are communicating with. Give the benefit of the doubt wherever possible.
12.   Take notes when communicating if appropriate.
If you are given a simple task you probably don’t need to take notes; however, often communications can quickly become complex. Take good notes and read them back to make sure you understand them correctly.
13.   Act on communication as soon as possible.
The facts are the clearest in your mind immediately after the communication has taken place. If you wait for several days to act, or even several hours, you may find that you have forgotten crucial pieces of the conversation.
We realize those are a lot of steps to keep straight. However, not all steps will apply to every communication. Just keep this list handy and take a glance at it before you communicate something important.
John Chapin is an award winning sales speaker, sales trainer, coach, and co-author of the gold-medal winning "Sales Encyclopedia" a comprehensive how-to guide on selling. "Sales Encyclopedia" is written for sales professionals in all industries at any level of experience.  Utilizing more than 21 years of sales experience and as a number one salesperson in three industries, John co-founded Complete Selling Incorporated, a company helping salespeople double their sales and find their motivation.
If you would like access to John's free white paper on what it takes to be successful in sales along with a monthly newsletter, you can visit John's website at  For permission to reprint, or to reach John, email him at
​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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