Client Relations: Being an Effective Communicator and Managing Your Inboxes
In today’s online world, there are so many ways that people can reach out to each other.
In addition to our own personal and work email inboxes, every social media platform has it’s own inbox as well. There are inboxes on our websites and blogs. There are comment sections on all of our pages. Then there’s texting. And platforms like Nextdoor. Plus, there are still people who will pick up the phone and call us.
I’m sure there are many others that I’m not thinking of off the top of my head, but this is quite a few. It’s daunting to keep track of sometimes, to say the least. And while it can create a sense of stress and urgency when you are trying to keep up with all of the ways people can reach out to each other, there are some techniques that might help you manage those feelings and keep up with your communications in a more consistent and thoughtful way.
While there are many ways that people can reach us, you probably have a handful of ways that are most prevalent for you, and which you find get the most use. Prioritizing checking those messages more often will help narrow down the platforms that you feel you have to check.
That said, it is important to schedule a time, maybe once a week, to check those other platforms, just to be sure that you don’t leave any potential clients waiting indefinitely or any important messages unanswered.
Hit That Unsubscribe Button!
This is almost blasphemy these days, especially when so many businesses and brands are vying for our email address. There are countless ways in which people try and snag our email address, all of the time, all day long.
And while there are definitely emails that we want to receive and look forward to getting, I would be willing to bet that there are several that go unread. For me, just seeing 15 to 20 emails in my inbox on a daily basis that I never even look at creates a sense of overload and overwhelm.
What I’ve started doing is unsubscribing to lists where I can easily find the content on my own.
There is no reason that I need to be notified about what is on Showtime tonite, when I can easily turn on the TV and look if I am interested. There is no reason for me to get daily updates on Nextdoor from my old address in Colorado. I also don’t need minute by minute updates on what is going on on Facebook and Instagram.
Clearing out some of these automatic emails that pile up in your inbox will minimize your inbox traffic in general, and allow you to look at and respond to the ones you do get more calmly.
Instead of checking messages all day long, every day of the week, try and schedule time to check all of them at once. You may think that this method would take a lot of time, but you’d be surprised at how efficient it is. Checking by habit is actually much more of a waste of time, and causes you to be more scattered and forgetful, and less thorough, in responding to messages.
Respond in a Thoughtful Way
It may be tempting to answer a message from a client on Instagram or even an email with a quick 2 word or 2 sentence reply sometimes. Or, to send a question by text or social media with no greeting or signature. There are definitely times for these very short replies and responses, but when it comes to communicating with clients, I would strongly recommend waiting until you can respond in a respectful and thorough manner. Use a greeting, think through your message and use words carefully. Use a professional signature.
The art of communication is one of the most important things we can cultivate in life and in our businesses and professions. It seems much more challenging to do and do well these days, but making it a priority and implementing a few thoughtful strategies can make a lot of difference!