Make it personal, take the slow road for clients
The prioritization of speed over personalization grossly underestimates the power of human interaction and the importance of face-to-face communication in building and nurturing important relationships. If the entire point of your business is simply to accomplish as many tasks as possible within as short a timeframe as possible, an email or text would probably be the extent of how you communicate with your key audiences. But it is likely that this isn’t your only business goal.
If you’ve ever been on the negative side of cyber miscommunication, you’ll agree that faster and simpler is not always better. Sometimes the absence of that critical voice inflection or that look on someone’s face as the information is being conveyed is such a critical part of the conversation that without it, the mere printed words fall flat at best and create confusion and misunderstanding at worst.
Our most effective ways of communication with our clients are typically through regularly scheduled, in-person meetings in which both parties develop a concise list of topics for discussion and have an open and honest dialogue with each other.
You do business with people, not faceless entities. The beauty of face-to-face conversation is that it allows for the subtle nuances of communication, which include non-verbal clues, as well as the energy that can emanate from being in the same room at the same time with people who have synergistic goals. The instances in which we have experienced the magic of 1 + 1 = 5 tend to happen in actual in-person meetings where all of our senses can experience others in the room and play off of that interaction in real time. Sometimes understanding why people do business with each other is at least as important as understanding what they do.
Technology and how to use it effectively is obviously a critical part of doing business, and there are certainly increasingly effective and dynamic ways in which this takes place every day. Your business can use tools such as chat on your website and video tutorials about your products or services to enhance relationships with your customers, for instance. Video can be especially effective and can allow for a more personalized approach than a typical customer service email.
The key is to understand your particular customers or clients and to be sure you are communicating with them in the specific ways in which they prefer to interact with you. If you don’t know what this is, then ask them! We try to establish this at the beginning of every client relationship. Some of our CEO clients who run large corporations and/or who travel frequently prefer a more streamlined communications approach, while others work best in a highly personalized environment.
Additionally, our studies have shown that although millennials have the strongest grip on technology and all that it can do, most of them actually prefer a collaborative, in-person work environment and are looking for a substantive sense of connection with others.
So the trick is to be strategic in how you communicate and to connect with your customers and key influencers in the ways that they prefer (not necessarily what’s easiest for you!). Technology will never totally replace the human element as a critical factor in enhancing the interaction we have with each other.
Cathy Ackermann, founder and president of Ackermann Marketing and PR, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org