Communication has gotten so much more complex as there are so many channels now, it’s difficult to manage smartly with clients.
In all the conversations we have every day, they come from a variety of sources, not only people but from different channels. Having all these loose threads running around, it’s difficult to grab, manage, and control them to end up with a message at the end that is the same as what was intended at the beginning.
Technology, however, has brought us great things, but in the advancement of communication, it brought us too much of a good thing. Clients can communicate with us in person, by telephone, by text message, instant messaging, messaging within specialized apps, US mail, and the list goes on. Clients can get very creative.
Within your firm, communication can happen with paper documents, phone calls, text messaging, instant messaging, messaging within specialized apps, and in person. Channeling all these lines of communication into one is impossible, however by setting boundaries with your clients and team, including yourself, and utilizing the right technology you can turn this impossible dream into a streamlined communication reality.
Communication is at the core of our business. If you don’t look at your communication, from all sides, even if it’s just you in your firm, you are missing out on an opportunity to fix a major pain point, most likely even several. The domino effect from re-aligning your communication cascades into the crevices and holes and bridges gaps you never realized the source of.
The first place to start is to take a step back and list all the ways your clients communicate with you, all the channels of communication within your firm and all the ways you communicate with your clients. Once you have them all written down, cross off all the ones you should not be using because either they don’t give you a correct audit log, are time consuming, or they are an unsecured channel to receive and send the data. Check the list and see what’s left. Look at what is redundant, what is unnecessary and cross those off next.
Primary, to this list should be our obligation to secure and protect our taxpayers’ data. Recorded web meetings and pre-recorded video messages from you are an alternative to the traditional phone call or in person meeting where much can be hearsay.
Break it down into 3 chunks:
This is Your Input
On the client side, it must be easy, without too much effort on their part. For your firm, it must be secure. It must be visible and trackable, and it can’t get lost in the multitude of streams that exist. Exceptions often get lost.
Once that communication enters your firm, the message must remain intact from the start. It must be clear and any threads that surround it should be in the same stream.
The Processing Side
One of the nice side effects from optimizing the processing side of communication, it allows you to spot the scope creeps much clearer and stay on top of them from the start. For you and your team (or you and you), a full audit on the client and the work with visible, targeted communication is essential.
You cannot remember everything, nor keep track of everything yourself. If your input is optimized and your processing is not, communication gets garbled, and your message often gets lost or delayed.
Output is as Important as the Rest
They say the audience always remember the end of a show, so you must make it memorable, even if the rest of the show is not. Final impressions are just as important as the first and can often destroy the good vibes of the first if handled poorly. Here, if you have tied up and cut the threads that don’t make sense in your communications streams from input and processing, you should just be tying the bow.
The Final Step
Once you’ve whittled down all your channels into the ones that make sense for you your clients and your firm, you are now ready to set boundaries and consolidate as much as you can into one thread for everyone to have visibility. Introduce your new way to communicate with your clients and your team so they understand what you want them to do. Your communication will become effective, and the end will remain consistent to the start.