Element 1 – Establish Positive Relationships with Clients
Establishing positive relationships is the key to success in business, which means as a security officer working for an organisation, you keep your job. Below are a few strategies that you can use to prevent poor relationships with your clients:
- Always treat your customers like dear and valued friends. Do the nice things for them that you’d do for your best friend or a family member.
- If your customer has a problem, rectify it as soon as possible. Communicate with them always. Let them know exactly how you intend to handle the problem and when you’ll be in contact with them next.
- Always try to conduct yourself nobly and professionally in the end, as well as in the beginning of a relationship with your customer.
- If the customer relationship doesn’t work out, attempt to salvage whatever good and goodwill are still left in the relationship. Just because it didn’t work out with them, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t refer others to you, as long as you treat them with respect.
- Despite any differences of opinion, work hard to be honest and positive. Always be noble, respectful and genuine.
The message is simple: People understand that things go wrong. They understand that you forget, that you get busy, that you and your product or service can be imperfect. All they want is to feel is respected, considered and that you’ll do whatever it takes to rectify the situation.
As a security guard, it is important that clients trust you are capable of doing your job. To ensure that you act professionally and maintain a positive relationship with clients, you need to:
- Use questioning techniques to ensure you understand the messages you receive
- Use questions to clarify messages and also to find out more information about your clients’ requests
- Use appropriate body language. The correct body language will ensure that your message is understood as you intended
- Use good interpersonal and communication skills. These skills will help you maintain a good relationship with clients, colleagues and supervisors
- Make sure your uniform is well presented and that you maintain high standards of personal grooming
- Maintain client confidentiality. Keep all information about clients confidential. You must not tell anyone – even your own family – any details of your job
To establish positive relationships with clients, you need to be able to use communication techniques, which may include:
- Active listening
- Being respectful and non-discriminatory to others
- Control of tone of voice and body language
- Demonstrating flexibility and willingness to negotiate
- Interpreting non-verbal and verbal messages
- Maintaining professionalism
- Phone technique
- Providing and receiving constructive feedback
- Questioning and paraphrasing to clarify and confirm understanding
- Use of appropriate body language
- Use of communication appropriate to cultural differences
- Use of positive, confident and cooperative language
- Use of two way communication
Good communication is the foundation of a good client relationship. It is among the most important factors determining the volume of future clients. With so much riding on the quality of your communication, you should be compelled to be the best communicator possible. This requires that you take full responsibility for all communication in which you are involved. That means having good command of both ends of the communication process.
The most significant of all rapport builders is good listening skills. It is extremely important to become a good listener. It will benefit your client relationship in the following ways:
- Accurate information – Good listening allows for an accurate exchange of information which is critical for you to serve the client properly.
- Reduced misunderstandings – Good listening helps eliminate misunderstandings, increasing client satisfaction with your services and enhancing their perception of your competence.
- Increased rapport – When clients feel you understand them, it creates greater trust. Good listening improves trust and rapport, and maximises the probability of getting referrals in the future.
- Differentiation – Since most people are poor listeners, good listening skills will make you stand above the crowd.
Tests of effective listening:
- Is the information being received and understood by the listener?
- Does the speaker perceive that he / she is being understood?
Most people are not very good listeners. It is estimated that only about 60% of spoken information is accurately received. There are a number of reasons the information doesn’t get through.
- The speaker is unclear or not specific enough, causing the listener to make assumptions
- The listener is not paying attention due to lack of interest in the subject matter
- The listener is preoccupied with other matters
- The speaker is not saying what the listener wants to hear
- The listener is busy formulating a rebuttal to something the speaker said previously
Most miscommunications are the result of poor listening, not poor articulation. Most people are passive listeners. Even when information is received and understood, the listener fails to acknowledge it. Neither do they verify that the information received is what the speaker intended to say. This can cause the speaker to feel he / she is not getting through. Passive listening also allows misunderstandings to go undetected.
The communication process consists of speaking and listening. Some people think that when you are speaking, you are in control of the process and when you are listening, you relinquish control to the other party. This is only true if you are a passive listener. Passive listeners only take an active role in communication when it is their turn to speak, leaving the process beyond their control at least half the time.
Taking full responsibility for communication requires you to be specific and articulate in your own speech, and to actively facilitate the quality of the other party’s communication when you are listening. This facilitation is known as active listening.
The first rule of good communication is to ask frequent relevant questions. This is a very simple process where you listen carefully to the content and then ask questions that seek clarification, verification, motivation or specificity.
- Clarification – Clarifying questions are those you ask when there seem to be inconsistencies or when you are not sure you understand what the person is trying to say. These questions are very important in avoiding misunderstandings. Most misunderstandings result from people making assumptions based on ambiguous information. Clarifying questions reduce the amount of ambiguity.
- Verification – Verifying questions are questions you ask to verify that the information has been correctly received. It is particularly important to ask verifying questions when you have drawn a conclusion based on what has been said. Always verify that conclusion from the speaker’s point of view before you assume your deduction is obviously correct. You may be missing a piece of information that would have emerged had you verified your hypothesis.
- Motivation – Motivational questions help you understand the reasons why people act and they give you insight into how they are likely to behave in the future. Probing for reasons is essential to your ability to understand and shape the expectations of your client. If you know why the client has a certain belief, you have a better chance of changing that belief.
- Specificity – People tend to speak in generalities. Often they mistakenly believe you understand all the specifics. They assume you will get the whole idea if they give you the general idea. You need to ask them to be more specific. It is particularly important to ask specifying questions if the speaker is in an emotionally charged state. The more emotional we are, the more we tend to generalise. This is because our thought patterns become much more reactive and less analytical when we are upset. Asking specifying questions forces the speaker to become more analytical and thereby more rational.
Asking questions has another effect besides improving your understanding of the information. It also creates rapport. Relevant questions show interest in what the speaker is saying. When the speaker perceives you are interested, it creates a feeling of mutual respect. This is an instant rapport builder.
As a security officer communicating with clients, make sure you are always professional and courteous in a way that would reflect sensitivity to individual social and cultural differences, keeping in mind that social and cultural differences can be expressed in many ways. Social and cultural difference may include the following:
- Beliefs, values or practices
- Cognitive ability
- Conventions of gender or sexuality
- Cultural stereotypes
- Food or diet
- Religious and spiritual observances
- Social conventions
- Traditional practices and observations
When you establish a positive relationship with your client, it should be professional at all times. Your professional conduct may relate to:
- Non-aggressive communication or body language
- Own attitude and behaviour
- Personal dress appropriate to the work assignment
- Personal grooming appropriate to the work assignment
- Use appropriate language to engage minority groups
Your professional image is an important part of your job; you need to understand that your presentation to the clients and customers must be professional at all times. All persons you come in contact with must easily identify you. By wearing a uniform that is cleaned and ironed shows you have respect for yourself, which in turn, the public will show respect for the security officer or crowd controller.
When choosing the types of clothing to wear to work, as a security officer, it must be practical. The shirts you wear must be in accordance with the company guidelines you are employed by. It is important that the shirt is comfortable and that you can move easily and freely if you have to. The types of pants you wear must be of a fit that allows you to move easily and freely, in the case of having to run or get in and out of your patrol car etc. The last item is your footwear.
The environment you work in will be a major decider on the type of footwear you purchase. The best footwear in most circumstances would be a leather boot that is light to wear, with total support and comfort.
Security officers are exposed to the public eye, which requires them to look their best for the company they are representing. It is also very important that you understand that the chance of coming in contact with a violent situation is very high. So if you are required to wear a necktie, choose a tie that is a clip on or elastic. Either of these will help prevent you from being choked. If you are wearing a conventional tie, you can cut it and rejoin it by using small snap clips. The other way you can modify a conventional tie is to use a small amount of Velcro. When dressing for your security officer or crowd control job, always consider your own safety first.
Clients and customers must be able to identify the security officer; the major consideration would be the image the company you are working for wants to portray to the public. These can be known as how the company markets its business. Just remember that your safety should come first in all circumstances.
Your uniform in most situations will depend on the environment you work in, e.g. hospitals, construction sites, nightclubs, casinos, major clubs, shopping centres and airports, etc. They will all have different uniform styles which suit the workplace environment, for safety and public image.
As you start work for an organisation, you will be required to conduct your work assignments in a professional manner. The organisational requirements with which you will be required to comply, may relate to the following:
- Access and equity policies, principles and practices
- Business and performance plans
- Client service standards
- Code of conduct, code of ethics
- Communication and reporting procedures
- Complaint and dispute resolution procedures
- Emergency and evacuation procedures
- Employer and employee rights and responsibilities
- Methods for communication with diverse clients, including young people
- Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policies, procedures and programs
- Privacy and confidentiality of information
- Quality assurance and continuous improvement processes and standards
- Resource parameters and procedures
- Roles, functions and responsibilities of security personnel
- Storage and disposal of information
When you are working onsite at a client’s premise, you may come in contact with sensitive information about the client. It is extremely important to keep the information that you may have obtained about the client confidential. If a security officer working for an organisation discloses sensitive client information, the consequences can be loss of employment, loss of contract, sued or breach of legislation.