Train yourself to maintain your business relationships.
It would seem that in today’s high-tech world, communication would be simpler than ever before. Oddly enough, though, there are 7 touch points of communications that can have you fouling up enhancing a business relationship.
Touch Point #1: Telephone
And not just your business or home phone, your cell phone too. Surveys show that more than 80% of all business transactions involve a phone call at some point. The telephone is what’s known as a “synchronous” method of communication, meaning you’re in “sync” with the person you’re talking with. You can have a simultaneous two-way exchange of information immediately. No waiting.
The best part of the telephone touch point is the ability to hear the tone of voice. That brings in the listener’s imagination. Tone of voice is critical; two people can say the same thing to one person and yet the listener can hear it differently from each. All that being said, the telephone is a very effective and popular method of communication (provided that you’ve reached your called party).
Touch Point #2: E-Mail
E-mail is “asynchronous,” meaning you communicate one at a time and may not get immediate communication back. You will normally wait for an answer, and with e-mail you have relinquished interpretation of the tone of voice to the other person. E-mail etiquette, while fairly new, will be around for a long time. However, suffice to say when we e-mail something, it needs to be short, sweet and to the point.
It’s a delivery method that has the ability to sit for hours, sometimes days, without an answer. A client told me once, “When there are more than 2 e-mails on the same subject back and forth, it’s time for a face-to-face meeting.” That’s easy for those of us who work in the same area; however, if your e-mails are international or even regional, a face-to-face meeting becomes another touch point. Be careful in your e-mails. Many hurt feelings have come about due to insensitive writing. That’s a good place to practice “please” and “thank you.” Short, terse, one-word answers are perceived as rude. Don’t put anything in an e-mail you wouldn’t want in the daily newspaper.
Touch Point #3: Voice Mail
Again, asynchronous. When you leave a voice mail for someone, when you get an answer, if ever, is up to him or her, not you. It’s not instantaneous, as is speaking with someone on the telephone. So here again, your voice mail needs to be special. There are 3 types of voice mails: poor, average and great. When you leave a voice mail, make it a great one. Remember, you get to use your tone of voice. That’s a real plus. The caller can hear the laughter, the smile and the tone. Use it to your advantage. Remember, too, voice mail was not made to hold conversations. Ask a question; get an answer. In and out.
Touch Point #4: Mail
Good old U.S. mail. That’s probably one of the very first methods of communication. We’ve used it and continue using it as a great method of communication. It goes with e-mails though, because the written word can be miscommunicated very easily. So e-mail, voice mail and the USPS are very similar when communicating. All are asynchronous.
Touch Point #5: Fax
Remember when that method of communicating came on the scene? Seems we didn’t know how we operated without it. And today, it trails sadly behind the other touch points. Yet, it’s still there and being used, just not as much or as often. Also, again, it is asynchronous. One-way information; waiting for an answer.
Touch Point #6: Face to Face
This obviously needs very little explanation. When we communicate face to face, we have it all: Sight, sound, tone of voice, facial expressions, body language. It is the ultimate synchronous touch point. And yet, still we miscommunicate.
Touch Point #7: Instant Messaging (IM)
While this method of communication isn’t quite yet in the mainstream, it is being used. However, 90% of all IMs end up in a phone call. Instant messages may not be read right away. The person may be away from their computer. Again, we can’t remind you enough. Be careful what you put into electronic communication. It can turn into an embarrassment for some.
|Meet the Author
Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, located in St. Louis, MO, and on the Web at www.telephonedoctor.com.