Communication With Clients: Learn To Speak Digitally

iPicnic | ©JD Hancock via Flickr | CCBY
iPicnic | ©JD Hancock via Flickr | CCBY

These days, cell phones and revolutions in how we all communicate and interact mean that older methods of communication with leads and clients are not as effective as they used to be. This can be dangerous for those of us who don’t have a strong background in using these devices or who are heavily accustomed to the tried and true methods employed by professionals for many years.

text message quick response

This isn’t just a long-distance telecommunications phenomenon, either. The evolution of communication has bled into standard communication and has changed not only how we send messages to each other but how we speak, as well—and not knowing the differences can make all the difference.

Rule 1: Be Concise

We’ve noticed that people don’t pay attention to others if they’re rambling. The internet is an enormous source of knowledge, but the overload of knowledge works against it: people don’t have the time to read everything. 

NPR recently took advantage of this principle for an April Fools prank, using the photo and metadata of an article to suggest that people don’t read. Many people protested, commenting about how they do read and how it was offensive for NPR to think that way. However, if you click and read the article, it lets the reader in on the joke. The offended people commenting didn’t read the article. And there were many people offended, too.

The same is true for your clients. They don’t have the time to waste on you if you’re not providing solid information, whether that information is a blog post on your website or a listing. Say what needs said and stop.

The takeaway: speak clearly and quickly; don’t waste time.

Rule 2: Be Prompt

The expectations of communication have changed, as well. Not even 20 years ago, answering machines were common because unless we were very well off, instant replies and instant communication were not expected. 

This has changed. The internet and the ubiquitous nature of cell phones mean that your reply is expected extremely promptly—often within minutes. If you’re waiting longer than an hour to reply, even if just to let them know you’re busy, you’re most likely losing business. To the modern professional of any age, time is money and waiting for excessively long periods of time is detrimental to business.

While this might seem like it’s an invasion of your life, consider how many things you get instantly these days and how you expect quick replies from those companies who have your business. You’re no different. 

The takeaway: respond quickly with solid information—even if only to say that you’ve received the message. 

Rule 3: Be Mindful

The differences that the market faces can seem insurmountable, especially when it deals with changing the way that you do business and how those social expectations have shifted with little warning. But, learning to speak “digitally” in what used to be an analog world isn’t too terribly difficult—just keep your clients in mind, how they operate, and how they define the relationship. If you work to define it your way, you’ll get clients who think like you do—and that number is on the decrease.

Don’t just assume that one way of doing business is best because that’s the way it always worked. Remember, 20 years ago print ads and billboards were more effective than this thing called the internet. Now, computer monitors and phones are the billboards. Things change—and so must we if we want to keep getting business. 

The takeaway: pay attention and adapt.