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Posted by on Nov 2014 in All Stories, Member Support | 0 comments

Communication tips for optimizing customer service

Communicating with good customer service in mind is about more than helping your tenants feel included in your organization’s operations. It gives your team direction on what’s working and what needs improvement: valuable feedback that can often be difficult to extract from service users. By opening up the lines of communication, you gain access to a wealth of information and make your tenants feel appreciated and connected to the organization.

Effective communication can be easy when you put the needs of your tenants first. This means offering a variety of communications channels, using clear and easily understood language, and considering language and accessibility in all interactions.

Multiply your channels

While some are people comfortable speaking in groups, others may prefer one-on-one interactions. Many are comfortable online; others still prefer printed copies.

Delivering a message in different ways ensures that you reach each of your tenants. Repeat communication also helps a recipient to retain and understand what you’re trying to tell them. When choosing a communication style, opt for a method that allows for interaction and engagement with residents.

For example, when explaining a new pet policy for your building, you could:

  • include the policy in an update to your tenant handbook
  • post the policy to your organization’s website
  • discuss the policy with the head of your tenant committee and answer any questions or concerns
  • explain the policy at the next tenant meeting
  • advertise the policy in a tenant newsletter
  • email tenants about the policy
  • post a short memo to your building’s Facebook group or Twitter handle

Clear things up

Writing in clear language doesn’t mean “dumbing down” your communications. Clear language means choosing simple words, removing words that are too long or not needed, and writing in short sentences. The goal of plain language is to express your message quickly and with ease.

Speak directly to your target audience and use a friendly informal tone, when it is appropriate. Your word processing software may have an option to check the grade level of your writing. (This option is often included in spell-checkers.) A grade level of six or seven is considered readable by most people. Review your communications regularly and delete any unnecessary information and check if any words have a more clear option (e.g. “use” instead of “utilize.”)

¿Hablas español? Language and AODA considerations

Do your communications reflect your tenants’ language needs? As populations change, it’s a good idea to ask tenants what their first language is and if they need information translated.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may be required by AODA regulations to provide documents in an accessible fashion or to train staff members in accessible customer service. In addition to meeting legal requirements, it’s a good idea to be aware of the unique needs of your tenant community.

For example, in a seniors’ residence, a sans serif font that’s at least 12 points in size will be easy to read in newsletters. If you have residents with mobility devices, tenant meetings should be held in spaces with accessible washrooms. In a family building, it may be helpful to offer childcare during tenant meetings.

Resources

AODA standards: bit.ly/1tmbXLd
AODA Wizard: bit.ly/1u78Agv
Clear writing: www.plainlanguage.gov
ONPHA’s tenant handbook: ow.ly/Dx8DS

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