Effective Communication -- Your Key to SuccessBy: Mary Sweeny
Communication. We're all aware that it's a necessary part of doing business. But are you aware of the tremendous impact your ability to communicate has on your success-personally and professionally? Time and time again, communication has proven to be the key factor in determining whether a customeris retained, whether they increase the amount of business sent our way, and whether our position is secure.
Doing Nothing Says A Lot
Doing nothing at all can speak volumes to a customer. Our inaction can say: "I don't really care about you." or "I don't mean what I say." So the next time a customer calls, (or e-mails), don't wait one minute longer than you have to before returning their call.
Even if you don't have an answer for them, let them know you're working on it. And if you say you'll be there at 3:00 on Thursday-be there at 3:00 on Thursday. It's amazing how many professional people think nothing of neglecting a commitment, or letting a day or two go by without returning a customer's call. Develop a "sense of urgency" when it comes to your customers, and you are sure to stand head and shoulders above the majority.
A Case In Point
When my husband and I owned a service business, we landed a very large account. From the beginning, I scheduled weekly visits to the account, where I and my contact person would walk through the building, talking. Often, the conversation was general. But because I was there every Wednesday afternoon without fail, the message was communicated that I valued their business.
Communication. It happened in this case because I made myself available-on a regular basis. Problems were avoided. And the door was never cracked open for a competitor to sneak in.
For ten years we kept that account (and many others). Then we sold our business. The new owner didn't see the need to be there every week. Small issues were allowed to compile. The client began to feel neglected. Within 12 months the account was lost to a competitor. When asked why, the customer's response was quick, "I haven't seen anybody in three months!"
Communication. It can win customers. It can keep customers. One thing is for certain-it pays to make the investment!
START COMMUNICATING TODAY!
Pick up the phone! Even if you can't go see each customer right now, it only takes a minute to call them. Tell them you're interested in their thoughts and opinions about your service. Ask if there's anything you can do for them. They may be surprised, even suspicious at first, but they'll get used to all the attention-and they'll love it!
Jot a note! In addition to regular phone calls, send them a note of appreciation once in awhile. When you run across an article which may be of interest to them, send them a copy with a brief note stapled to the top. These small efforts keep you in front of your customers, and communicate that you care.
Stop by! You don't have to spend a lot of time. In fact, you probably shouldn't. But showing your face every now and then (when you aren't trying to sell them something) is a very powerful way to show your concern for their satisfaction -and secure your position.
Keep track! Time flies. Don't let it cost you customers. It may seem like you just saw them, but you would probably be surprised how long it's been-if you knew! Develop a simple method for recording customer contacts. Refer to it weekly, or monthly, then schedule visits and phone calls-otherwise, they won't happen! There's no reason to let more than a month go by without some kind of contact, no matter how small.
© Copyright 2000, Mary Sweeny
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.