One of the biggest and most common problems in business is poor communication. Specifically, businesses that have become terrible at communicating with their clients, an issue that can over time slowly infect a business.
Here’s how a typical story unfolds. When we start our business we are communication rock stars, responding to emails in a few minutes, answering calls immediately and generally being super responsive. It’s when we get busy things begin to unravel and we go from being communication rock stars to communication delinquents.
The big problem here is that once you become a communication delinquent, it’s only a matter of time until your business starts to suffer, your reputation becomes tarnished and the new business enquiries begin to dry up. We need to put our hand on our heart and ask ourselves “have I become a communication delinquent?”
Here are some typical signs of communication delinquency:
- Increasingly long response times for new client enquiries, to the point where it is embarrassing to ring them, so often you don’t.
- Niggly comments from clients as they get frustrated by a lack of response to their emails and calls.
- Making silly mistakes with projects because you haven’t taken the time to read emails properly.
- Missing deadlines and having to deal with the results, simply because you aren’t on top of your communication.
- Losing clients – not because of poor quality work, but because it’s just too hard to work because of your terrible communication.
Our world is filled with an enormous amount of competition, which has made us all become much more demanding. The quality of the work we receive is just one aspect of why we choose to work with a particular business, how they do business is often just as important if not even more so.
I used to work with a graphic designer who did great work, but communicating with her was a nightmare. In a short period, I went from being her biggest client to giving her no work at all – simply because she was too hard to deal with.
So, we tend to reach a crossroad, and it may depend on where you are in your business lifecycle.
If you are just starting out, my advice is simple, never stop being the incredible communicator that you are when you first open the doors to your business. That hunger (tinged with fear), certainly makes us super responsive.
If you’ve been around for a while and perhaps slipped into some bad habits, and rest assured I’m as guilty as the next person here, make a conscious decision right here, right now, to turn over a new leaf and from this moment on, make being an incredible communicator a priority.
If you’re not sure if you’re a good communicator or not, you probably are not. That said, reach out to your clients for honest feedback. It might just save your business down the line. We all need the humility to be able to say “sorry” when we get things wrong, but it amounts to little if we don’t actually do something about it.
Being an exceptional communicator, which really simply means being responsive, considered, proactive and aware, is not just an option in business, it’s an essential for long-term survival. And if you agree and think it’s essential today, rest assured it’s becoming more essential every single day.
So are you a communication rock star or a communication delinquent?