Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Now that I have caught your attention in the subject header, we can talk about one of the most important parts of building a successful business – communication.
Often, deals go sideways, relationships fall apart, and pipelines dry up due to poor communication. There are so many components of communication that affect business – communicating early and often in an engagement, staying in touch with important contacts in between engagements, and active listening are just a few. One I want to shine a light on today is responding to an important business contact (often a client or colleague) in a timely manner. A simple and quick acknowledgment of their message seems so basic and intuitive yet is often delayed or overlooked.
Currently, I am working with a trust attorney on a family trust matter that is turning into an incredibly frustrating experience. There have been several important issues that we are trying to resolve as quickly as possible, yet the attorney has not only taken several days but several weeks to respond to our questions. It reached the point where I thought something serious happened to her and that we might have to find another attorney. She finally responded back unapologetically and the slow response time to subsequent outreaches continues. She may be incredibly busy, yet my gut reaction to the way she is communicating with us is 1). she doesn’t care about our business, 2). she is burned out on what she is doing, or 3). she doesn’t understand the basic principle of responding to clients in a timely manner. Whichever the case, suffice it to say that I will not be actively referring others to her in the future.
The question we should all ask ourselves is how well we respond back to our key business contacts. I would venture to guess that most of us could do a better job at it.
Sure, we get busy. Things stack up. We can come up with a myriad of excuses yet if we want to build a successful business, we should always be thinking of ways to truly be on top of our communication skills with our contacts.
My current experience with my lawyer is not the first time I have heard of experienced professionals in legal or consulting practices being slow to respond. Perhaps it is because they want to have all the information ready before responding. Seems logical, yet if it takes several days to collect the information while the client is left hanging wondering whether the lawyer received the email, then we have a communication breakdown.
A simple response from the lawyer such as “I received your note and will get back to you as soon as I have all the information” would suffice.
Basic communication practices such as acknowledging your contacts in a reasonable time can make a tremendous difference in not only building long-term relationships with clients, but also a healthy referral stream. The attorney with whom I am currently working is I am sure a competent attorney when it comes to practicing her area of law. That said, my perception of her being a good attorney is lacking because she doesn’t practice the important fundamentals of showing her clients respect and keeping them out of the dark.
In other words, it is a good reminder for all of us to communicate early and often with our important business contacts.
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