Let’s Talk: How to Communicate Clearly in Business
In business, it all starts with communication. From client relationships to marketing campaigns and so much in between, clear communication lays the groundwork for success.
Think back to the last project or situation you had that didn’t end well. A breakdown in communication probably occurred. While reviewing the situation, can you spot where it happened?
Remember that people do business with people, so relationships are critical—and communication is at the heart of all relationships. So, how do you communicate clearly with clients, employees, colleagues and other business relationships?
Agree on Expectations
It’s tough to judge performance when everyone has different expectations. That’s why it’s so important to sit down with all parties involved, and set expectations that everyone agrees on.
Did you land a new client? Congratulations! Start building a solid foundation for your relationship by understanding what the company expects from you. Invite your new client to a meeting to discuss everyone’s expectations and make sure you can help them achieve their objectives and exceed their expectations. (Pro tip: start off on the right note by providing tasting samples at the meeting!)
Adding to your team? Welcome your new employee with extensive training, a mentor, welcome kit and plenty of friendly faces. It’s helpful to give your new employees a schedule of their first week or onboarding process, so they know what to expect. Don’t worry about scheduling every minute. Let them know the main topics: what they’ll be learning, when they’ll be eating and who they can turn to for help.
On the Farm, we like to pair new Ridgers with more seasoned employees, so they have a dedicated person to answer their questions and make them feel at home. This process is especially helpful when our crew expands to welcome our seasonal Ridgers to accommodate the crazy holiday rush. Hey, it takes a lot of hands to create 20,000 custom gifts a day!
If you’re welcoming a new employee, consider the Ghirardelli© Cocoa Gift Set or another desk accessory filled with gourmet treats. These useful and stylish gifts will give a warm welcome to your staff members and help them feel at home.
Choose the Best Channel for the Conversation
Part of agreeing on expectations may involve setting communication preferences. We have more ways to communicate today than ever before, but that can be the problem. While it’s a good idea to accommodate your clients’ and employees’ communication preferences as often as you can, different types of communication work best on specific channels.
Do you have a complex situation to discuss with a client? Pick up the phone. (If your client is hard to get a hold of, schedule a call.) Confirming order details? Send an email, so you can receive confirmation back in writing.
Technology has changed communication extensively, but don’t forget about the power of face-to-face communication. The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board stole the show at last year’s SXSW Conference by building the Cheese Lounge at SXSW. Amid all the technology and innovation, attendees were lining up for a true barn party experience, award-winning Wisconsin cheese and cool swag.
You can put the power of face-to-face communication to work for you by meeting with your clients quarterly to discuss their marketing objectives, planning for future campaigns and reviewing their return on investment (ROI). Spice up your meetings with delicious, gourmet treats and other surprise promotional products while making the atmosphere fun and interactive. You don’t have to build a barn frame to do that, but we can help you with the Wisconsin cheese.
Meet with your employees face-to-face as well to listen to their concerns and feedback, discuss any changes to their responsibilities and show your appreciation. Meeting face-to-face allows you to see non-verbal feedback as well, including body language. If you have employees working remotely, try to meet with them face-to-face occasionally, but otherwise utilize technology to make them feel connected to your company and a vital part of the team. (Pro tip: an occasional package at their door may help!)
Check Your Company Policies
While we’re discussing communication channels, don’t forget about your company policies. Are they helping you communicate or holding you back?
Your clients and employees may prefer to communicate in different ways than your policies allow. For example, a client may want to message you on Facebook or text you about a project. If your company blocks social media sites or prohibits employees from using their cell phones during work, your client may get frustrated or go elsewhere.
At the same time, you need to decide when communication requires more formal channels. While you may communicate with clients via text, will you accept orders or changes to orders via this channel? Can an employee text his boss when he’s sick, or does he need to email or call the HR manager?
Make decisions that work for your company, clients and employees, but the takeaway is to think about these situations—and communicate your decisions—before they come into play. Technology is changing so fast that communication (and customer care) continues to evolve rapidly. Reviewing your company policies and updating them as necessary will help you avoid problems in the future.
Relationships drive business today, and communication is at the heart of any relationship. Whether you’re communicating with clients, employees, business partners or prospective customers, remember to agree on expectations, choose the right channel for your conversation and review your company policies to make sure they reflect today’s communication styles. Now you’re on your way to communicating clearly and producing outstanding results!
What do you think about our communication tips? Share your thoughts with us on our social media channels, and let us know if you have any additional communication advice.