Managing Communication Channels

Posted on November 11, 2015 | Client Communication Client Satisfaction
Alex Hemker
Alex is Partner & CEO at Buhv Designs. His main focus is biz dev and helping us grow as a company, as marketers, and as designers. Read more of his posts here.

There are countless opinions on how to best communicate with clients. With the ever-emerging sides of technology present, we are always connected. But just because we have the option to connect with clients in certain ways, it does not mean we should.

The more scientists study technology and its impacts on how we build community, they are finding that in ways, there are times where tech can heavily influence the outcome of certain conversations.

It is vitally important to recognize this and to understand how exactly we are either using technology as a way of hurting or hindering our work.

Taking information from the fields of communication studies, some common business practices, and some general ideas of etiquette, here are some solutions for those individuals who might not be as technology-minded but are wanting to understand better how they can use diverse forms of technology to communicate with existing clients, potential leads, and even current staff members.

Email

Email is one of the easiest tools we have at our disposal and a vital part of our society. Everyone relies on this tool to get information across.

The important part about email is realizing that it should not be overused. The number of emails the average person gets on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Email is perfect for maintaining contact with an existing client or getting information out quickly to people. It is not always the best way of forming new relationships, however, and above all else, it should not be used when an immediate, right now answer is needed.

Best Uses:

  • To correspond with existing clients
  • To quickly share non-pertinent information
  • To transfer documents

Weaknesses:

  • Not always as secure
  • Easy to get lost in the clutter of inboxes
  • Easy to ignore

Times to Avoid:

  • When trying to sell a brand new client who has never met you
  • When information needs to get across immediately, and you need an immediate response
  • When handling certain confidential matters,
  • Spamming people

Text Messages

With the lines between the business world and our personal lives being blurred now more than ever, you will find that text messaging is becoming much more common in work. Texting is now not just between you and employees but also between you and clients.

Text can be great for quick communication and addressing client issues in a pinch. Just remember texts are less formal than email. With the ever-connected nature of society, when you allow someone to know they can text you, it means they might have the perceptions that texting is always going to be present. This is not a bad thing, but it can be when a client expects you to be around and available at 10 PM on a Tuesday.

If you are going to use text messaging with clients, make sure they know what the limits are. Always be appropriate. You need to keep your text messages handy in case you have to backtrack on a conversation, and the last thing you want is to have issues of professionalism.

Best Uses:

  • Quick correspondence with clients
  • Addressing small situations or mistakes
  • Connecting with clients on a more personal level, endearing them to you

Weaknesses

  • Very informal method of communication
  • Can create unhealthy relationships or expectations
  • Concerns about professionalism and crossing personal lines

Times to Avoid

  • When addressing serious, confidential matters
  • During personal time, after hours of work
  • If there are concerns about the client relationship

Phone Calls

The age-old phone call. Aside from in-person meetings, this one is the oldest on the list and for good reason. Phone calls work in the arena of business. They allow you the chance to connect quickly with someone else without having to worry too much about meeting them in person.

Phone calls are often a double edged sword because they allow you to connect quickly and cut down on the miscommunications that can occur in a meeting, but they also can still be overwhelming. Sometimes there are clients you will have who want to do a phone call without an actual need. Make sure to use phone calls appropriately.

Phone calls are best for establishing new relationships or addressing issues without the fear of miscommunication. The problem is many times we do not fully record our phone calls that can lead to some difficulties.

Best Uses

  • In new client relationships
  • Sales and first points of contact
  • Sharing critical information
  • Addressing concerns and emergencies
  • When longer communication is needed

Weaknesses

  • Not always recorded meaning information can be lost
  • Long calls can cause people to lose attention or “multitask.”
  • When you cannot determine the length before hand but are on a tight schedule

Times to Avoid

  • When you need a record of interactions
  • With long-winded clients who might take up too much time
  • When outside noise will interfere

Virtual/Video Meetings

One of the newer ones on this list, virtual meetings or video conferencing is becoming more and more popular. These tools are great at offering customers the chance to connect with you in a personal setting without fully having to set aside the time towards in-person meetings. Virtual meetings do require technology however, a downside for some offices who might not have the ability to be as mobile as others.

Virtual and video meetings also hold your team members and the clients more accountable. It is harder to slack or have people not paying attention if you are looking at each other face-to-face. In managing virtual meetings, make sure you have the appropriate setup and tech behind the scenes. It sucks losing a client mid call and this can be detrimental to your work.

Virtual meetings are fairly manageable in that many times you are able to do them for set limits. Like phone calls or in-person meetings, they can go over time, but if you schedule them properly this is not always the case.

Best Uses

  • To host a meeting on a tight schedule
  • To provide an interpersonal feel beyond phone calls
  • To provide a sense of connection
  • To meet with clients across the world

Weaknesses

  • Technology reliant
  • Can be cumbersome for clients who do not know how
  • Require additional planning

Times to Avoid

  • When you do not have the technology
  • When the set up is not right
  • With clients who do not understand technology
  • When you are not wearing pants

In-Person Meetings

Let’s go back to the stone ages with this one. Just kidding. But really, in person meetings are the oldest form of connection on this list and for good reason. No matter how much technology evolves, nothing ever beats the potential chance to connect with someone face to face.

Interpersonal connections will always outweigh any other connections. As humans, we crave the chance to connect with the people around us. We desire the need to see emotions and how we are influencing others. Conversations will always beat out other options, hands down.

In-person meetings are great, but also can be costly. Depending on the spread of your work, it can take significant time to set up and travel to a meeting. Meetings also have the ability to run over. It is easy to say “lets meet for an hour” and all of a sudden you have three gone and things are still on the table. Meetings are sometimes detrimental because they can also easily get derailed.

In establishing new connections, building strong relationships and really selling your clients, nothing beats meetings.

Best Uses

  • Connecting with new clients
  • Closing on leads
  • Managing larger concerns
  • Starting client onboarding or wrapping up projects

Weaknesses

  • Can cost time and resources to set up
  • Can run longer than necessary
  • The more people, the more issues emerging

Times to Avoid

  • When issues can be addressed without meeting
  • When you do not have time
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