Best Practices Tips - Communication


Before you hit the 'SEND' button on your e-mail message:

  1. Fill in the subject line. Clearly define your objective.

  2. Check that your communication is going to the intended recipient.

  3. Determine if it is necessary to 'reply to all'. Be prudent.

  4. Edit if the message if it is over 5 lines.

  5. Consider bulleted or numbered points for lengthier messages.

  6. Proofread, carefully. Do not rely on 'spell-check'.

  7. Include a signature with your full name and contact information.

Timing is extremely important for successful communication.

Ensure that your recipients are ready to receive your information. Whether by phone or in person, receptive and attentive audiences are more likely to retain the content of your message.

  • Ask your contacts for their preferred mode of communication.

  • Inquire as to the best time of day to make contact.

  • Begin your communication with, 'Is this a good time?'

  • Plan ahead to organize your thoughts for clear and concise communication.

  • Be honest about the length of time you need, and honour it.

  • Observe responses, if the recipient gets distracted or detached, suggest a better time.

  • Postpone communication if the recipient is overwhelmed by pressing responsibilities.

Ask these three important questions before you communicate by e-mail or phone.

How urgent is the message?
For many, the fastest option is still the phone. However, ask the intended recipients to advise you on the best way to reach them in an emergency.

Who needs to know?
Mass e-mailing or spamming is faster but less efficient, and is unwelcome by those who receive it unnecessarily. Take time to filter group mailings and be selective about who you copy.

What is the best method?
Use e-mail if your message involves a document or detailed information, needs to reach multiple recipients, or if you cannot afford to get involved in a lengthy conversation.

Client complaints or objections require immediate and sensitive action.

A client may forgive a mistake or an oversight but not a lack of empathy or reluctance to take corrective action. Your response needs to be prompt and effective.

  • Acknowledge that you have fully understood the reasons for their complaint.

  • Adjust your vocal tone and body language to communicate your sincere empathy and concern.

  • Confirm the client expectation of your plan to take corrective measures.

  • Commit to the timely implementation of your plan and be sure to keep your commitment.

  • Follow up to make sure the client is completely satisfied with your service.

Do you know what your clients really want?

Current research tells us that clients often rate service over pricing. The value of your relationship is equally important as the quality of your product or service. Would you be able to answer to the following questions?

  • What level of service does your client expect from you?

  • Are they consistently satisfied with your service?

  • Why do they choose to do business with you?

  • Do you offer unique or exceptional service?

  • How do you compare to your competition?

  • What more could you offer?

Out of sight, out of mind!

Although many would agree that the best communication is face-to-face, many would also suggest that this is becoming increasingly more difficult to achieve. What's the next best thing to being there? The telephone conversation is a great way to make that personal connection.

Ask yourself these questions before you decide to choose e-mail instead.

  • When was the last time I spoke with this person?

  • Have I ever connected voice to voice with this person?

  • Am I avoiding a confrontation?

  • How urgent is my message?

  • Would a quick call be better than constructing an e-message
    and wondering when the recipient may receive it?

Slow down, you're talking too fast!

Our increasing time-squeezed schedules often cause us to rush our verbal communications, which can lead to missed and miscommunications. The consequences can be costly to revenue and relationships. The next time you deliver information in person or by voicemail, be considerate of the recipient.

  1. Organize your thoughts clearly and concisely.

  2. Take a good deep breath before you speak.

  3. Learn to be aware of how fast you speak, fault on the side of speaking slower.

  4. Pause occasionally to allow the recipient to comment or ask a question.

What exactly is honest communication?

Many people express the need for openness and honesty in their business and personal relationships yet often we are reluctant to be direct ourselves. Do we fear hurting someone's feelings, or are we trying to avoid conflict? Here are a few ways to communicate openly and honestly.

  • Ask the recipient if you may share your thoughts or feelings.

  • Include the reasons for your feelings and comments: the benefits, consequences, or expectations.

  • Express yourself with confidence; maintain eye contact; use open body language.

  • Invite the recipient to offer their response; be patient and accepting.

  • If they are non-responsive follow up later to show that you truly care about how they feel.

Watch your language.

Everything you say is a reflection of you, even if you are talking about someone or something else. The ears that catch your words immediately turn them into images, images that lead right back to the creator - you! Once spoken, words cannot be retrieved...not unlike e-mail!

  • Take a moment to visualize the impact of your words before you speak.

  • Evaluate the consequences or benefits of what you are about to say.

  • Re-frame words and turn them into positives.

Is your voice music to the listener's ears?

One of the most effective ways to engage your audience is through your voice. Given the amount of telephone communication in today's fast-forward world, possessing strong vocal expression is a great asset. The T.A.P.P. Factor is a simple process to remember and implement.

    Tone - establishes a specific mood and intent.

    Articulation - provides the clarity of speech.

    Pace - allows for a better understanding.

    Pitch - offers variety of sound and frames key words.

Two words that lead you to success - Exceptional Service.

What is our client expectation of service in today's highly competitive business world?

  • Service starts with a smile.

  • Service is keeping the promises that you make.

  • Service is providing consistent quality.

  • Service is listening, caring, and actively responding.

  • Service is making a connection - one individual at a time.

  • Service is keeping your focus.

  • Service is going one step further than the competition.

  • Service is being accountable for your actions.

  • Service is being accessible.
What more would you add to this list of possibilities?

What services do you presently offer to your clients?

More importantly, how effectively do you live up to your offerings?

The Credibility Factor

Credibility. Our clients want it, and all successful individuals and businesses have it. If you want to capture the attention and respect of your clients and colleagues, you need to earn their trust.

How can credibility be achieved? To be credible is to consistently live up to promises and expectations:

  • Follow through on commitments.

  • Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

  • Keep confidences.

  • Be accountable for your actions.

  • Exemplify professional ethics.