“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” – Strother Martin, Cool Hand Luke, 1967.
Not being able to communicate properly is a trap that a lot of businesses fall into these days. That problem can manifest in a number of ways, but this article is going to look at just a handful of the bigger ones and how they can be avoided.
1. Reliable Phone Service
This might seem like a no-brainer but you’d be shocked how common it is to find businesses operating with outdated or patchy phone systems. You can’t communicate at all if your phone or internet doesn’t work because you cheaped out. Top quality VoIP systems are easy and affordable to outfit your business with, and companies like Com2 will even install and maintain it for you so you don’t have to nut it out yourself.
2. Be Professional
This is another area where businesses let themselves down. When you’re dealing with a customer or another business, keep it classy, keep it professional. Proofread your emails for spelling or syntax errors before you send them. Organise a proper business email address with a nice signature. Answer the phone maturely and speak clearly and articulately. Enunciate. You can’t be mealy-mouthed in business.
3. Schedule and Prepare
Everyone’s busy these days, so take the time to properly organise your meetings in advance. This will give you and the person or people you’re meeting with adequate time to speak. Once you’ve got a scheduled meeting, prepare an agenda – that way, you won’t get off topic and can maximise the amount of time you have in the meeting. Set up an email reminder for both parties so that no-one forgets due to something silly like not using the same calendar software.
4. Ask for Feedback
Keep open lines of communication with your clients and contacts. Ask them for input on how things are going on their end and the service that you provide. Make enquiries at the conclusion of a mutual project through a formal survey or just at the end of a day-to-day conversation. The format matters far less than you actually doing it, and it will allow you to hone your business.
5. Address Problems Head on
If you have an unhappy client, whatever you do, don’t ignore them. Find out what’s got them so unhappy and find out what you can do to rectify the problem. The longer it takes to acknowledge the problem, the harder it’s going to be to fix it. Address the issue, be communicative and be accountable. Clear, progressive communication is a vital part of excellent customer service.
As you can see, there’s a lot of areas where the wheels can come off the communication wagon. The old saying “You only get out what you put in” certainly applies here. Ensuring that you are able to communicate effectively, in all areas, and then following through on that will allow you to grow not only your business, but your reputation as a company that is easy to deal with. What do you consider important for clear communication in business? When has a lack of communication let you down in the past? Let us know in the comments below.