Most people think they are strong communicators. They say to themselves, “I have face-to-face discussions with my customers all the time.” Then after thinking about it, they realize they actually meant to say “phone conversations.” And after a long pause, “well it’s more like a lot of email exchanges.”And finally, “no what I really meant is that we text all the time,” therefore, our communication is just fine.
But when you really think about it, is it?
With the proliferation of technology and the myriad apps and devices available to us, our lives and communication are supposed to be easier, faster and more concise (can you say Twitter or Snapchat?).
In reality, true communication isn’t that easy. In fact, it can be quite difficult. It’s not just a few words or sentences here and there. It’s a meaningful exchange of thoughts, ideas, and dialogue that is useful and engaging for all parties. And it’s critically important in the client-business relationship.
In today’s world, it’s more difficult to set aside precious time to communicate. Customers and individuals are busier than ever. Their attention spans are limited. And their focus has shifted to a multitude of other priorities.
So how do we break through?
- Set a date, time and duration - Communicate with your customers on a regular basis. Whether it’s monthly, weekly, or daily, the schedule must work for everyone.
- Pick a technology - Make sure the vehicle used is a good fit for everyone, whether it is Skype, GoToMeeting, FaceTime or an in-person meeting.
- Stay on track - Try not to cancel or postpone your scheduled discussions. There are times where it may not be possible to meet. In those cases, re-schedule or increase the time of your next meeting if needed.
- Stay focused - Know the subject and goals of the conversation. Don’t deviate and stick to your allotted time.
- Listen - Your customers want you to understand their needs and help them with the task(s) at hand. Listening is the key.
- Honesty – Push back when you disagree; explain your point of view and why you think it’s right. Be upfront and transparent about any negative results. Suggest ways to improve the situation.
- Adjust as needed – This applies to all aspects of communication - frequency, duration, format or topics discussed. If something is not working, suggest an alternative and implement.
- Show value - Demonstrate the importance of consistent open communication and provide concrete proof and examples of how your past interactions led to a positive result.
- Avoid complacency - Stay fresh and engaged. It’s easy to get stuck into a rut or ‘same old, same old’ discussions. Inject positive energy and attitude into every conversation.
In the end, it’s our job and responsibility to understand our customers’ needs and help them communicate better with us. The aforementioned suggestions should help you establish the right path to an improved customer-business relationship. After all, our mutual success depends upon it.
What are your communication tips? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your input.