Many years ago, early in my career I worked for a woman who was possibly the most savvy business person I have ever encountered. She was full of wisdom. Her management style was simple and powerful. Her mantra: Treat your clients like gold and honor your sales team as the life blood of your business. During my training she said the most valuable thing I have ever learned. "If you want to be successful, just show up for your appointments and return your calls."
So here I am thirty years later and her words are truer now than ever. It seems that technology has made it harder, not easier, to communicate. Emails go back and forth, clients rarely talk, never speak live. They text outcomes and arrange vital meetings by sending Outlook calendar requests. Appointments are forgotten, invoices lost, private information is copied to people without their knowledge. Monumental deals are celebrated with a word or two and "Send."
How trying it is to communicate with words that are too short, too brief, too vague. Then there's the tone to worry about. Emails always seem to have a tone. Start with a greeting, or no greeting? Use initials? A smiley face, "Sincerely" or just initials? They all mean something now. If you were on the phone you could say, "What do you mean?" or "How does that sound?" or "I don't think so." But now you only get a few words. And what if they are the wrong words? What if they don't sound right at the other end? Then there's the reply, or no reply, the time lapse, and the chatter in between. Answer the phone? Leave it on vibrate? Turn it off? Look at it? Don't look at it? Text back?
The truth is we are still a business of humans. Skip the emoticon. Put the smile on your face or in your voice. Why not try calling your client? Or better yet, walk in and see her. Say hello. Bring a gift. Return an email or a phone call on the day you get it. You'll be way out ahead of the competition.