With this in mind I find recent experiences communicating with businesses, somewhat confusing.
I have an opinion that I should not have to chase someone to give them my business.
Everyone out there has some sort of competition and I would have thought, working hard to stand above that competition, was a priority.
Once I have made initial enquiries with a business, I may make contact one more time and then I will leave them alone.
Usually, and I say usually because there is the rare occasion where there is a reasonable explanation for the lack of contact, I will not consider them again. If communicating with you is a challenge in the beginning, then you can pretty much guarantee that is the way it will be in any future relationship. I have better things to do with my time than chase people to give them my business.
Yet recently I have been dumbfounded by the lack of responses I have experienced from a myriad of businesses.
So here are some things to think about regarding communication within your business – both external and internal.
- Firstly, make sure your communication procedures are robust within your business. There needs to be clarity around who is responsible for what and what happens if plan A cannot be executed. For example, if you have a website that seeks enquiries, make sure there is someone who is responsible for following those enquiries up in a timely manner. I recently spoke to someone who had sent two enquiries through websites and 3 weeks later, had not had a response! One must ask why a business would have a website to initiate enquiries, if they are not responded to.
- Have clear policy around response time. How long you expect emails to go unanswered? How long would you expect the phone to ring? How long a message should be left on your system without being responded to? Once you are clear on policies then you can design appropriate procedures.
- Make sure your enquirers, are clear on what is to happen. If you clear your phone messages at the end of the day, then say this on your message and ask that they leave a clear number where they can be contacted at this time. If you prefer to be contacted by email or text or cell phone, make sure they know this. I remember a conversation with someone I had been attempting to make contact with, so reverted to email. His response was that he had been away and didn’t do emails anyway! Why then have an email address on your business cards?
- Always remember the under promise and over deliver theory. If you tell me a quote or a job is going to take a certain time then make sure it does. Allow time for the worst case scenario. If this initial part of the relationship fails you have potentially lost my trust.
- Speaking of trust – never underestimate the currency of trust. Doing anything that could damage trust is long lasting and often publicised.
- Communicate, communicate and communicate again! If you cannot come and quote on my job for three weeks, tell me that. I then have a choice what I do. If I really want you I will wait as long as I you keep in touch. If you are having trouble paying accounts then communicate. I often hear from business owners, that they would rather someone was honest and paid bills off, than ignore the situation hoping it will go away.
- Develop your people. Your staff are your greatest asset, yet so often neglected. Listen to them, acknowledge them, show them that they are valued and offer programmes to develop them as people. Nothing will improve your communication around your business than having passionate, solid people involved.
- Understand that everything you do communicates something. What are you communicating to me yourself? What is your staff communicating to me? What are your business premises communicating to me?
- Consistency is important. Imagine two of your clients meeting on a plane and discovering that they are your clients. Are they sharing the same story and experience?
Communication is everything.
I cannot put it any plainer than that.
So do whatever it takes to ensure the communication within and outside your business, is robust and sends the right message to potential and current clients.