Managing communication and client expectation is a big grumbly grizzly bear for the average entrepreneur. As you check Facebook to view client comments on your latest killer photo, your messenger pops up with an order request. Your Instagram inbox bulges with questions about your latest story, you just received a sample request via email, and now someone is texting you with an order. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. The internet doesn’t sleep, and the simple math of “ways to communicate + hours of time available for communication” can flat overwhelm.
But what are you supposed to give up? Your business actually grows and thrives on all of these types of communication.
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A few quick disciplines can totally solve this headache and have you living your day, instead of it living you.
Respond to all sales requests by email.
If someone facebook messages you about your coaching services or custom bracelets, respond back kindly, “I do my best work by email, it’s so hard to keep track and offer great service here on social media. I’m excited to chat soon, where can I contact you by email? Or please email me and give your email address.”
This response can be a little tricky, as you don’t want the client to jump through hoops to work with you, but in my experience, when I have mentioned that the communication will be faster and more efficient, they jump on board. Follow this procedure on every single outlet EXCEPT email…obviously.
I even do this for clients when they phone me without a scheduled call. I say, “I’m happy to talk to you by phone, I know sometimes it’s easier to convey ideas, but I’m away from my office, and unable to take notes, so if you wouldn’t mind shooting me a quick email about our chat, I’ll make sure to answer all your edits on the website build.”
Set aside times that you read and respond to all your messages, everywhere.
This is especially true for social media, and returning texts and phone calls. The exact hour or how many times a day will vary by need, but set something up like 10am and 4pm each day. THE END. If someone messages you after 7pm, you respond the next day at 10am. If someone texts you at 2pm in the middle of your amazing creative time, you don’t respond until 4pm.This is helpful for a few reasons.
It does actually make your work easier. You check and respond to each message from your desk, instead of at a red light. If you need to jot notes down, email someone on your team or do research before answering, you can do it all without interruption! Another bonus I’ve found is that I more efficiently move through work and I answer with more authority and information. It’s drastically cut down on email back and forth.
I’ve almost totally abandoned answering email from my phone, only utilizing this to kick the can down the road quickly when I’m waiting on a client response, or if there’s an emergency. There is no need to answer emails from the car, dinner table, or toilet. Believe it or not, a prospective client will wait a few hours and your response will be so much more settled and efficient, it will probably land you more sales.
Use a canned response whenever possible.
Set aside time to create canned answers to most asked questions and most used processes. Open a fresh Word doc and write the response you give to each person in discipline number one (to get them into your inbox and off Instagram). Add in anything else you say often. I use the same response each time I send someone a training video, so I’ve added that response to my document. Now I just cut and paste, personalizing as needed.
We’ve also created pdfs and documents to attach to emails as needed, further explaining a process that we used to explain repeatedly. Have someone wanting a custom order? Send them a form with all the details and explanation. Stop typing out a fresh response to each and every email about the same things. This is true insanity.
Shorten the back and forth.
When I respond to a client, I anticipate what they will ask next and advance answer it. If I know what I’m explaining won’t be easily understood by email, I go ahead and initiate a phone call, WITH times I’m available the next day. I’ve just gotten rid of at least 6 emails… can you explain this by phone…when are you free…what day works for you…no not that day…what about after lunch this day? Sometimes I just link to my Calendly appointment calendar, and let them choose. DONE.
A customer expects that you are the leader.
If you don’t act like the leader, then they become the leader…and you become a crazy person. Explain the way you do business, lay out the process, send the form, act professional, like you have yourself together! This doesn’t make the client feel put out, it makes them feel cared for and secure in your abilities to handle their money.
**Thanks to my awesome clients who have been sending in questions for me to answer in each blog post. Have one yourself? Send it in! firstname.lastname@example.org