How to Manage Business Communication in a Loud World

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love how easy it is to do this and that and be constantly connected to everything at my fingertips. I love that technology gives me the ability to do my work from anywhere. I love that within a few minutes, I can reach out to hundreds or thousands of people all at the same time across multiple channels. I, however, hate what technology is doing to business communication.

Fifteen years ago, if you wanted to “talk business,” you had a few options: write them, call them, email them, or talk to them in person. Most business communication was clear: if the need was immediate, you’d track someone down or give them a call; less immediate, then you’d write an email or letter.

Now, you have dozens of ways to communicate with clients, coworkers, or the community-at-large, and inside all of this noise, communication has become…less. Less formal. Less documented. Less structured. Less professional. Less personal. At any time, you can Tweet, Snap, Scope, Slack chat, text, or Facetime someone. At any time, you can switch from one established method to the other, communicating with your audience from platform to platform.

Businesses are having a harder time communicating effectively with employees, customers, and divisions. With each new and growing business, communication becomes more and more inefficient.

I have a confession to make: I do not set limits with clients on how to communicate with me, even though I feel like I need to. As a coach/consultant, I like to think that I’m accessible to anyone throughout my workday. I think that needs to change – for myself and my business – and for yours. Limits on how to communicate help to weed out issues and designate importance. Limits on how to communicate make it easier to follow-up or remember where the information you receive comes from. There have been many times where a client will text me a link or a phone number instead of emailing it. I have received numerous Facebook and Twitter direct messages containing an answer to a question that originated in an email. And I am completely to blame for not teaching my clients how to communicate with me.

How do we break through the noise of constant communication?

  1. Establish guidelines for within your company, as well as with clients and customers. Decide on the best method to communicate (for example: specific ideas and plans through email, and more casual conversations through text or social messaging apps and platforms). Then, stick with it. Yes – there will be situations where you still have to screenshot your phone screen and forward it in an email to yourself or file it away in Dropbox, but guidelines should minimize the inconvenience.
  2. Do not depend on every available platform to communicate. Minimizing your options for communication will also help to keep you from searching through a dozen different locations for a single piece of information. Just like in social media, not every platform is worth your time and effort. Pick the best 2-3 that are convenient and allow work to be done efficiently.
  3. Funnel all platforms to one place. For this, I love Evernote – I create a notebook for each client, then save all emails, texts, pictures, and other communication in that notebook. By tagging each new addition with a few keywords, you can quickly search for what you need, when you need it.

I don’t foresee the business world becoming quieter with communication, but by establishing expectations early on, you can keep bad habits from happening, and keep your customers happy!

Nicole

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Does your company need help with organization, productivity, or streamlining communications?

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