For the Love of Mike (and all the others you serve) – Close the Loop!
The phrase “for the love of Mike” has a colorful Irish backstory wherein exasperation and frustration were redirected from God to Mick (or Mike).
I am exasperated with a particular human experience shortcoming that I see demonstrated over and over again. Since I don’t think God is to blame, I thought I should invoke the Irish variation.
This particular human experience “pet peeve” involves failing to close the communication loop. Allow me to set the context for what I see as a rampant service breakdown by talking briefly about closed-loop communication.
Human communication is far more challenging than most of us appreciate. To be effective, a sender must transmit a message (verbally, email, text, social media, etc.) and that message must be correctly understood by a receiver.
Let’s assume for a moment that a specific message is sent verbally during face-to-face communication. Let’s further assume that the receiver nods once the sender has finished talking. In that scenario, the sender and the receiver have absolutely no way of knowing if a message was accurately received. However, if the receiver had “closed the loop” by repeating back what they heard both parties would have discovered if the words were heard accurately. This repeating back process is often referred to as closed-loop communication.
Closed-loop communication is often built into processes for those involved in “high stakes” interactions. For example, an interaction between a police officer and a police dispatcher might go like this:
Officer: “Unit 8 will be 10-6 (Busy) with a Stranded Motorist.”
Dispatcher: “10-4 (Affirmative) Unit 8 is 10-6 with a Stranded Motorist.”
Or conversations in a surgical suite might go something like this:
Surgical assistant: “Sponge.”
Surgical assistant: “Irrigating.”
While this type of paraphrasing assures word-level accuracy, more advanced communication skills are required to make sure that the meaning behind the words is also correct. (I will save breakdowns at the advanced skill level for a different soapbox on a different day. For now, let’s stay with the basics.)
The goal of this post is to shine a bright light on a HUGE experiential opportunity when it comes to receiving messages. To make this very practical, I will share a common occurrence in our business.
Someone will reach out to us sharing a possible need for our services. We will respond promptly letting them know we received their message, express our desire to learn more, offer to connect with them via their desired channel, and at their desired time.
We then await some follow-up message. As we continue to wait, we begin to wonder: Did our message get lost in the ether? Did their interest wane? Have they gone a different direction?
Alas, we fire off another email, and this time we ask for a read receipt.
Hurray! We get confirmation that the email was received and read, but no one closes the loop. I would understand if were “cold calling” or making an “unwanted” solicitation but shouldn’t there be some response, even in the case of a prospective partner?
How hard would it be to say – thank you for your email, but that ship has passed?
This example is, but one of many I encounter personally, but I also see it happening within organizations as team members don’t acknowledge email sent from peers, customers, or other stakeholders.
Take the Communication Challenge
So here’s my challenge: treat all prospects, solicited vendors, and team members as if your interactions were on par with that of police and dispatchers or surgical teams. Close the loop!
I’ll take my own challenge, send me a message about your communication opportunities or service pet peeves. I am fully committed closed-loop communication “for the love of Mike and the love of all.”
Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.
Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli
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