As 2020 kicked off, I decided to start sharing weekly tips related to issues and stakeholder management on my Twitter and Instagram accounts. As an issues enthusiast this has been a great outlet for me to share my experience and expertise while reflecting on past and present situations.
Here are the tips I have shared so far:
Be an active listener
Being an active listener is a key skill when dealing with issues. It's important to understand all the information you are receiving and pick out the most crucial aspects of the complaint. From there you can develop your key messaging and responses.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
When creating messaging you need to think of who the audience is and how they will understand the content. You need to keep your messaging consistent and simplified.
Even while you wait for more details or information about an issue, you need to let the person know that you are looking into their concerns. A small issue can easily get escalated if it's not addressed in a timely manner. Not in a week, not in a month, not in two months but it needs to be responded to the same day.
Think before you act
We live in a 24/7/365, fast paced world and we have to act quickly. But before you act, remember to take some time to think. Things happen in real time and issues can move extremely fast but you need to make sure you have thought things over and have reviewed your messaging and actions.
When it comes to issues and dealing with the public it is important to log and track everything. For example dates, times and locations you either met in person, over the phone and email correspondence. Depending on the type of issue, it might re-open days, weeks or months down the line.
When dealing with issues and complaints from members of the public or various stakeholders my first response is always the concern-action approach. You first want to show your concern but then immediately provide some sort of action.
Have a plan but be flexible
It’s always great to have a plan in place however things can change quickly. It’s important as a Communicator to be flexible and be able to react on the spot because your plan might not always work out.
Beware of promises you can't keep
When resolving an issue remember to make your actions and next steps realistic and attainable. You need to be honest and clear about the resolution/steps that you discussed with the public.
What are your top 3 tips for dealing with issues from the public or stakeholders?