Email and texting have revolutionized communication. Both are fast, convenient and essentially allow nonstop 24/7 communication. Like any means of communication there are limitations and certainly emails and texts have a downside. For a professional services firm, work 20 years ago was a barrage of phone calls and faxes. Now, emails have become so numerous many go unread, wind up as junk, or become the recipient’s to-do list.
Want to stand out from the crowd?
- Email may be good for maintaining a relationship but not to build one. When you have face to face contact (or even talk by phone), the conversation naturally strays into other areas and you get to know someone as a person. (Never talk politics – especially this election cycle). Clients expect a professional to be technically competent but they also want to work with someone they like and trust.
- I once read 65% of communication is nonverbal – body language and tone of voice. You might pick up some of that via phone but not email. Face to face (or even the phone) allow you to communicate, read the response and adjust accordingly.
- You have to spend time with someone to develop a relationship – electronic communication does not count.
- Never take for granted that a client knows, understands or even read your email or text. Even if they did, getting a verbal confirmation or explaining a second time never hurts. Vampires like the dark – clients do not.
- It’s great to be able to email a question or list of items needed to complete a project. If the first attempt does yield a response, try a different avenue – pick up the phone. Better yet follow-up the first email immediately with a phone call and explain exactly what you need. Repeatedly emailing when there was no response the first time is like the foreign Prince who wants my bank account information so he can wire money.
- I cannot count the number of times I’ve visited with someone and walked away with more work – never had it happen via email or text. If it’s happened to you I’d like to hear about it.
- Go see someone. Make it a habit to periodically drop in on clients (also prospects or referral sources) or at least call and ask how they’re doing. I’ve never been turned away. “I was thinking about you yesterday and wanted to find out how ________ is going.” Show people you genuinely care about them and their business.
- Buy note cards and send a personal note to thank, congratulate, or for taking you to the big game. I’ve never found anyone who does not appreciate a handwritten note.
Finally, if an issue is sticky, volatile or difficult to explain, stay away from electronics (or even a written response). Deliver the news or explain in person or by phone (distant second choice). A quick email reply may be convenient but you’re stuck with it forever.