Ever been waiting for someone to show up to repair something at your home? You’re waiting….and waiting, but no one ever calls or shows. Maybe you even took a day off work in order to be at home, and you’re furious. Or you interviewed for a job and never got any feedback. After putting in the time and energy, don’t you deserve some kind of follow-up from potential employers? Unfortunately, these are common scenarios and we’ve all experienced something similar at one point or another.
Lack of communication is a problem across multiple industries and seems to be getting worse as time goes on. Businesses and individual professionals don’t seem to understand how damaging lack of communication-or poor communication- can be to their reputations. Those who do know how to communicate hold a considerable advantage. Whether you’re a small business owner or an employee representing a larger company, it’s crucial to possess communication skills. A few tips for communicating with your customers and clients:
Don’t be afraid to deliver bad news. Any update is better than none at all. Admit to any mistakes you’ve made, don’t try to place blame, apologize if necessary, and be honest. Yes, you may take some heat as the bearer of bad news, but it’s better than keeping customers and clients in the dark. If you wait to communicate or fail to communicate at all, you’ll incite even greater frustration.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Under-promise and over-deliver is a common saying, and it’s good advice for anyone in business. Don’t make promises just to appease a client or customer when you aren’t sure you can keep them. Most importantly, don’t make promises on behalf of other people because then you’ll be relying on them to deliver on a promise you made. Not sure you can finish that project by tomorrow? Then don’t say you can. Guess what will happen when your stated delivery date passes with no completion? Your customer or client will be furious. If you’re realistic about the timeline, they’ll be much less likely to get angry. And if you do finish early, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. Bottom line, there is no advantage to over-promising.
Know how to communicate. Some messages need to be delivered in person, some over the phone, and others via email. The time sensitivity, nature of the message, and your relationship with the recipient will determine which method you choose. Be aware of your tone and body language (if applicable) because these are just as important as the words you say.
Communicating may be the most difficult part of your job, but it can propel your business or career if done properly. Therefore, it’s essential to learn how to face customers and clients even in the most difficult situations.